Summer is in full effect—the sun is shining long into the evening, weekends are spent lounging at the beach, and air conditioning is on full blast, 24/7.
Foodwise, the summer brings a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables—one of my favorite is tomatoes. At their peak, tomatoes are great in a simple salad, atop a piece of toast, or sliced and eaten with just a sprinkle of salt.
For those looking to make something a little bit more elaborate, or needing more recipes to put all those fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes to good use, enter this tomato tart recipe. It's the ideal appetizer for your summer entertaining needs.
It's like pizza, but dare I say, better?
What Are the Ingredients for This Tomato Tart?
This recipe features thick slices of heirloom tomatoes laid over a mix of ricotta, Parmesan, and thyme on top of a crisp, cheesy phyllo crust.
The crust gets nice and crispy, thanks to the thin sheets of phyllo, a hot oven, and little bit of butter. I went the extra step of sprinkling some Parmesan cheese in between every other layer for added flavor.
Phyllo Dough: Handle With Care!
If you've never worked with phyllo dough before, it's important to follow the thawing instructions on the package. Make sure the phyllo is totally thawed before starting to assemble this tart.
Also, phyllo is very delicate, so do your best to be gentle with the sheets so that they don't fall apart as you work with them.
Once the package is opened, be sure to keep the sheets of phyllo covered with a damp (but not wet) towel so they stay soft and don't dry out while you assemble the layers.
Let's Talk About That Cheese Layer
The cheese mixture has fresh herbs, a little bit of spice, along with some grated garlic to round it out.
I prefer grating garlic with a microplane rather than chopping by hand in instances like this to avoid the possibility of large chunks slipping their way into the finished product. (Plus, I find it much easier and faster than a knife.)
Pick the Best Tomatoes!
When it comes to tomatoes, you want to use the best ones that you can, which are nice and plump, free of blemishes or wrinkles, and hefty for their size. I opted for heirloom tomatoes from the farmers' market—mostly for the variety of colors to make the tart pretty—but I would imagine most any tomatoes would do as long as they're ripe and flavorful.
To slice the tomatoes, I learned from my days as a line cook that a serrated knife works really well—it cuts them cleanly without completely butchering them.
This recipe is best eaten fresh so that the crust stays crisp—so consider this a good excuse to invite a few friends over to make the most of tomato season and celebrate the warm weather.
More Ways to Enjoy Summer Tomatoes!
Tomato Ricotta Tart
- For the cheese layer:
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane or finely minced
- 1 egg yolk
- For the phyllo-parmesan crust:
- 12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 5 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- To assemble:
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix the cheese layer:
Mix the ricotta, grated Parmesan, thyme, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, and egg yolk together in a bowl. Set aside.
Preheat the oven and prepare the phyllo:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Carefully unroll the thawed dough and cover with a damp cloth to keep from drying out while you assemble the crust for the tart.
Assemble the crust:
Brush the bottom of a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with some of the melted butter. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on top.
Brush the phyllo with some of the butter and place another sheet of phyllo on top. Brush the second sheet with some butter and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese over the top.
Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo dough and butter, sprinkling 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese on every other sheet. Do not brush the top of the last sheet with butter.
Assemble the tart:
Spread the cheese mixture in an even layer on top of the phyllo crust. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the thyme leaves and salt on top of the tomatoes.
Bake the tart:
Bake in the oven until the phyllo is crisp, about 30 minutes. The phyllo dough will shrink slightly during baking and will no longer fill the baking sheet—don’t panic!
Let it cool slightly, about 5 minutes, and cut into squares. (A pizza wheel works great for this.) This is best served immediately or at room temperature. (You can refrigerate any leftovers, but the phyllo crust will lose its crispness.)