You guys. I had to turn on the defroster in my car this morning. Summer is officially over.
I’m in pretty deep denial about this. Normally, by September I’m ready for knits and scarves and soup. But this year blew by so goldurned fast, I feel like summer only just started. I didn’t get nearly enough of the sticky blue heat and bright evenings and lemonade. I’ve worn a swimsuit exactly once since New Year’s. I want to stomp my feet and say it’s not faaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrr. But really, there’s nothing I can do. Time is slippery, and the weather’s already cooling off.
But at least there are still tomatoes. Oh, are there tomatoes. Bushels of red at the market, and I couldn’t be happier. Even though I can’t appreciate a raw summer tomato, just the fact that it exists is comforting to me. As long as the tomatoes are juicy and fragrant, I can still hold on to a little bit of summer. When they turn mealy and inert, I know I have to finally come in from the cold.
So here’s a compromise: an end-of-summer tomato tart. Puff pastry, brushed with mustard, sprinkled with thyme, topped with tomatoes, and covered with dabs of Brie. I used an extra-soft and stubbornly melty cheese; the liquid edges ran thin over the tomatoes and caramelized in the oven into a shattering cheesy crust, while the larger pieces stayed molten and oozy. It’s basically cheating, this tart: combine puff pastry, ripe tomatoes, and Brie, and you’re guaranteed a winner. But then add the winey bite of Dijon and the resiny fragrance of thyme, and suddenly you’ve got something sophisticated enough for company yet satisfying enough for a snack.
This thing is absurdly quick to put together, and can go from oven to table in about half an hour. I’ve made two in the past week: one for three friends sipping tea in the afternoon, one for a party with beer and wine and ridiculous costumes. Both times, it was devoured within minutes. I’ve had it warm and at room temperature, and it’s phenomenal both ways. As a consolation prize for losing summer, it’s pretty unbeatable.
Tomato and Brie Tart (serves 6-8)
2 large ripe tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 sheet puff pastry
Dijon or whole grain mustard for brushing the crust
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz Brie cheese, chilled
Trim off the ends of the tomatoes, and slice them about 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle the slices lightly on both sides with salt, and lay out flat between two layers of paper towels. Let the tomatoes drain for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature while the tomatoes drain.
Preheat the oven to 400º F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and gently use your fingertips to pinch the seams closed. Prick the dough all over with a fork, leaving about a 1/4 inch border all the way around.
Spread a thin layer of mustard all over the dough, leaving the border bare. Sprinkle the thyme leaves evenly over the mustard. Arrange the tomato slices on top, and season with salt and pepper. Cut small pieces of Brie and scatter them over the top of the tomatoes.
Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and golden and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and transfer the tart, on the parchment paper, to a cooling rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.