Last of Summer’s Bounty: Rustic Heirloom Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart

finishedslice1Although Summer isn’t my favorite time of year…mainly because it gets so darn hot and muggy where I live, I do really enjoy the fruits and veggies of the season. The end of summer always brings a tearful time saying goodbye to the last of the peaches, corn, peas and tomatoes of the season. Fortunately, we do have a longish summer here, and I could still find an heirloom tomato or two in our local farmer’s markets last week.

Having procured three fine heirloom tomato specimens, I felt bound to make a dish in their honor. This rustic tomato tart has a few steps, but it’s easy to make. Use some of your own pie crust you may have on hand, or purchase some good quality crust at the grocer. The juicy-ripe tomatoes join with their BFF’s—sweet onion that’s been caramelized to really enhance the flavor, some fresh basil and thyme, and three fantastic cheeses—to create this delightful ode to tomato goodness. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s gooey, it’s delicious.

To keep your tomatoes from making this tart too soggy, I recommend slicing them, sprinkling them with a little sea salt and allowing them to drain a bit before you compose the tart. Save the resulting “tomato water” and use it to flavor cooked rice, or add to a pasta sauce. The tomato water essence is so flavorful that it deserves to be used and enjoyed…just remember that you are adding some salt to your dish via the tomato water, so adjust your seasonings accordingly. You can find the recipe below towards the end of this post. It’s so good, I’ll be out looking for tomatoes again this week!

*****

Warning! Here comes the long part of the post.

So for those of you keeping track, you may ask where have we been lately on our weekly hiking treks? In addition to some hikes further afield, we’ve actually completed eight out of the Top Ten Atlanta hikes. And, I might add, most of them were on days where the temps were in the upper 90 degree range. Honestly, if anyone had ever told me I’d be out hiking in the heat of summer I would have laughed in their face…but here I am and it’s been great, if a bit steamy! Here are some snippets from six more of those top ten Atlanta hikes to share with you, and again, if you live in the area or are visiting, these sites and hikes are well worth your time to enjoy and investigate. Be sure and run your cursor over any image to see a caption, or click to see a larger image.

We’re now entering prime hiking season in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Fall and Spring are great times of the year to “get some nature on,” take in some “forest bathing” and see the leaves turn—or the flowers start to bud and bloom, depending on where you are. And it’s so much more fun than going to the gym. So do yourself a favor and GO TAKE A HIKE!

Panoramic view from the Indian Seats, Sawnee Mountain.

Panoramic view from the Indian Seats, Sawnee Mountain.

#3 Sawnee Mountain Trail to Indian Seats: I don’t think I can describe this one better than the website I’m linking to here: “The Indian Seats Trail hikes over and around the sheer face of Sawnee Mountain to breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the mountain’s overlook. The trail is part of the 5+ mile network of hiking, walking and running trails at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, a 900-acre stretch of beautiful coniferous and deciduous forest just 40 miles north of Atlanta. Sawnee Mountain’s history spans from a sacred site for the local Native American Cherokee and Creek tribes to a mining site in the 1800s search for gold in Georgia.” It’s a super trail and involves a 500+ foot elevation change.

#4 The Sope Creek Trail: This very in-town (it’s actually in a residential neighborhood) and relatively short trail at 1.5 miles, meanders through young forest and past the ruins of a Civil War paper mill. This is part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area merges with the longer Cochran Shoals bike and running trails, and is very popular with mountain bikers and runners. Once you come off of the initial creek trail, you have many choices of how to extend your hike. One small trail leads to Sibley Pond on the way back out of the area. The trails are well marked with signage along the way showing you where you are, and if you are on a bike trail. If you ARE on a bike trail, keep a wary eye out as bikers can be upon you before you know it.

#5 The East Palisades Trail at the Chattahoochee River: Our first attempt at this really fun trail earlier this summer was aborted by a very strong lightning storm that came up quickly, encouranging us to head back down and home as fast as we could go! Fortunately we decided to give it another try before Labor Day, and it delivered a great hike with stunning views of the Chattahoochee River, which runs around and through Atlanta metro. There are about 3 plus miles of hiking trails on this side, with strong elevation changes and views above and alongside of the class 1 and 2 rapids. This trail begins in the Buckhead area of Atlanta…hard to believe it’s in the middle of town.

#6 The Kennesaw Mountain Trail: With more than 16 miles of trails to choose from, this Civil War Battlefield area is definitely one to visit multiple times. As long as I have lived here, this was my first visit to Kennesaw Mountain and it was a 98 degree day and unbearably hot and humid. Couple that with storms coming in, and we didn’t hike as long as we might have. We did hike the actual Kennesaw Mountain trail, which can get steep at some points, but provides a pretty nice view of Atlanta in the distance. There are many more trails to choose from in the area that cross mountains, battlefields and creeks, and pass through many historic sites. Each includes different access points if you don’t wish to trek the multi-mountain and over 16 miles of trails in full. Something to aspire to, I think, and maybe in the Fall.

#8 The Vickery Creek Trail in Roswell: This was one of the first of the Top Ten trails we hiked, and it is very pretty. The hike is about 3 miles through forest area and alongside the steep banks of Vickery Creek. There are two dams along the way, one is modern and the other is the historic Vickery Creek Dam from the Civil War era. Save a little time after your hike to enjoy the fun shops and restaurants in downtown Roswell.

#9 The Yellow River Trail at Yellow River Park: This 3.2 mile hike is an easy one through beautiful forested areas and alongside the Yellow River shoreline. The area has about 13 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. My only complaint was that while there were a lot of trail markings, they were somehow not very clearly marked. Still, a great place to get in a hike without driving very far, and some parts closely resemble North Georgia.

*****

Rustic HeirloomTomato and Caramelized Onion Tart
Serves 6

1 Medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 – 9-inch ready made and thawed rolled pie crust 2 Large red, purple or pink tomatoes cut into 1/4″ thick slices (I used Cherokee Purple), sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt and placed in a colander or fine meshed sieve over a bowl to drain. Reserve the “tomato water” for adding to rice or pasta at another date.
1 Large yellow tomato cut into 1/4″ thick slices
3 oz. sliced buffalo mozzarella
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup packed basil leaves cut chiffonade
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cut finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Flour to roll out crust
8-10 Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sprinkle with a pinch of fine sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned golden and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour on a work surface, and roll the pie crust into a 10 inch diameter circle. Transfer the crust to the baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, thyme leaves, chiffonade of basil leaves, garlic and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Spread the ricotta mixture on the pie crust in a circle, leaving about a 2 1/2″ border. Layer the caramelized onions on next, spreading evenly to top the ricotta mixture. Layer the tomatoes in a single layer, overlapping each slice and altering colors decoratively, and placing a slice of mozzarella in between each tomato. Fold the edges of the crust up over the edges of the tomatoes and pinch gently to seal the folds. Brush the edges of the crust and the tops of the tomatoes with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the top of the tart with some freshly ground black pepper and the parmesan cheese.

Bake the tart at 375 degrees F for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese and the crust are a golden brown. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then slice into 6 pieces and serve with basil leaves strewn on top.

Just out of the oven and it's a night shot...Gee, it's starting to get dark earlier and earlier!

Just out of the oven…gee, it’s starting to get dark earlier and earlier!

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31 thoughts on “Last of Summer’s Bounty: Rustic Heirloom Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart

    • Thanks, Tanya! I know, this was a lot of hikes to hit everyone with at once. I’d planned to share one a week, but haven’t been able to manage posting that often so thought I’d just do it this way. Amazingly, we’ve been on about 6 more than what I’ve shown so far. It’s been really fun. That tomato water is great. I just used up mine both to flavor rice and in a pasta dish.

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  1. So much hiking! And the scenery is so gorgeous. It must have been so relaxing and therapeutic to be away enjoying the surroundings. I love the look of your tart – so summery and a great way to celebrate the end of summer xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I love the rustic presentation of this. I expected something a little more manicured. And the filling! Fabulous! It’s hot and muggy where I live too. I only go outside to garden. I used to be an outdoorsy person before we moved to Oklahoma!!! Love love your tomato pie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mimi, and thank you so kindly for your lovely comments. This pie was so fun to make and eat. No worries about presentation…just good eating and relatively easy, too. And the flavors were better than the more “manicured” pies I’ve made to boot! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Hollis! We’ve become hiking fanatics, I know, but it has been such a great way to relax after the work week and super fun, too. I had no idea there were so many great trails so close by…and I’ve lived here for over 30 years! So glad you like the tart, too. 🙂

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  3. Small wonder you’ve been away, Betsy. With trails so beautiful, I’m surprised you’re here and not out there somewhere, no matter the temps. How nice that it isn’t all flat terrain like here, on the edge of the Great Plains. Some of those view were really quite nice. And then there’s your tart. What a great use for garden fresh tomatoes. There are still plenty of tomatoes at our markets. Ours was a cool Summer and everything is running late. The recent hot weather has meant that there are now plenty of tomatoes ripening. What a strange year!

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    • Gosh, I wish I could be out there all the time, but must take care of business, too. It’s been really a great thing to take a 3 hour mini-vacation each Saturday and see these views. Very invigorating, renewing and relaxing all at the same time. 🙂 Our summer has been relatively cool as well up until August. Yes, a very strange year. I’m hoping that the farmer’s market will have a few more tomatoes today so that I can make this again!

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  4. You’re not alone in disliking summer! Love all the great food it offers, but anything above 75 is too hot for me. Some of those trails look so great, I particularly liked the photos of the Sope Creek one, although they all looked as if they were worth a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment and agreed, 75 is the sweet spot! Sope Creek was nice…that was on the hottest day…100 degree heat index. It’s hard to convey what each trail looks like but they do all have their merits. 🙂

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  5. I bet the hiking was utterly fantastic, full of lush greenery and all! A great past time 😀
    Quite picturesque! And this onion tart? What I wouldn’t give to dive right into it, all rustic looking and calling my name!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for taking me along on your “forest bathing” trip, such beautiful trails and scenery.
    Your tomato tart sounds wonderfully delicious and a great way to use the summer heirloom bounty. This is a recipe I think my daughter will enjoy making, sending link to her, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the hikes, Norma. We’re still doing them and having a great time. Thanks for sharing the recipe…I hope your daughter enjoys this tart. I got some more tomatoes at the market yesterday, so will have to make another this weekend. 🙂

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  7. You go girl!!! Those are some beautiful hikes and it is great that you documented them along the way. I can’t wait for it to cool down less than 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity here in HK so my boys can get back out there and hike. They love it but in the summer it is just way too “heat stroke going to happen” hot here. I love your little rustic heirloom tomato tart it looks so delicious! I would give anything for a little bite of one of those now. Take care

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi BAM. I can relate to the temps and the humidity, although we are starting to cool below 90 degrees this weekend so maybe tomorrow’s hike will be cooler and not wet! I’m glad you like my tart…I have more tomatoes so there may be another in the works…after some BLT’s of course. Hope you have a great weekend and cooler temps on the way.

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  8. No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth again. Between getting my real estate license, planning Mallory’s November wedding, and trying to get through the day in one piece…life is great…? HAHA I cannot find your mailing address. I got a new laptop and none of your information is there. Here’s my email address grisner@lighttube.net. Please send me your address. Thank you.

    Love, Ginny

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  9. I missed this great post ! Once again – your photographs are simply gorgeous!! And I admire your ‘industry’ – you’ve sure done A LOT of walking over the summer! I also liked your explanation as to how to stop tomatoes from being soggy – thanks. I’m sure I’ll use that tip often. What a lovely looking rustic tart – don’t you just love how special rustic tarts look – and how easy they are??!!

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