Why It Works
- Docking the puff pastry with a fork and weighing it down with another sheet pan eliminates air pockets and keeps the pastry slim and crispy.
- Salting and draining the tomato slices extracts excess moisture and prevents the tart from becoming watery.
- Whipping the ricotta incorporates air, making it fluffy and light.
I look forward to tomato season every year, when ripe tomatoes in brilliant shades of red, green, orange, and yellow are seemingly everywhere. This tart, a play on Kenji’s tomato, mayo, and toast, is just a way to showcase the quality of in-season tomatoes: a crisp puff pastry spread with herbed whipped ricotta and juicy, sweet tomatoes layered on top.
It’s also very quick to put together because of the frozen puff pastry, which arguably does its job just as well as homemade puff pastry. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it’s important to thaw frozen puff pastry until it’s cool and pliable first, either by letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight or on the countertop at room temperature for a couple hours.
Because the toppings are uncooked, the pastry must be baked beforehand, and I use Sohla’s tips for blind-baking to produce an ultra-crispy crust: dock the pastry with a fork and weigh it down with a sheet pan to keep massive air pockets at bay as it bakes.
As for the tomatoes, any variety of tomato or mix of varieties will work; you just want to be sure the tomatoes are firm and ripe. I salt and drain the tomatoes in advance to extract excess moisture, in order to prevent the tart from getting soggy, but it also helps if you’re planning to transport this tart or want it to last on the appetizer platter for longer than an hour or so.
Whipping the ricotta in a food processor smooths out any lumps and incorporates air, creating a light and fluffy texture. Once the components are ready and the puff pastry is completely cooled, assembly is a breeze. Simply slather the ricotta over the cool pastry (doing it while the pastry is warm will make a mess), layer the sliced tomatoes on top, and sprinkle them with sea salt, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and basil leaves. The tart is best served at room temperature and complements almost everything, making it a wonderful appetizer or side dish for any gathering.