It was a tough call to decide if a recipe from Michigan should feature luscious Michigan tomatoes, or their famous juicy cherries. I have great recipes for both from my friend Debbie Dingell, a lifelong Michigander who also happens to be running for Congress in the western suburbs of Detroit. This congressional seat is currently held by her husband, John Dingell, who has served in Congress longer than any other person in history.
I’ve known Debbie for over twenty-five years. She’s the person who always finds time to organize the Christmas lunch for friends – you know the lunch – it’s the one you always say you’re going to do, but then December rolls around and best intentions fall away and it never quite happens. Debbie remembers her friends and makes it happen. She works hard on un-glitzy causes, for charities and organizations that do difficult work, and don’t have black tie galas to fall back on for their donations. She’s been a quiet political force of her own both here in Washington and in Michigan for some time.
We have always been friends because she is open and accepting of others, and known for reaching across the political aisle. She understands that people from different political parties may be opponents, but should never be enemies, because that does not serve the country well. Debbie is a bridge builder. I think a mark of character is the ability to recognize good character in people with whom you disagree, and give their opinions the respect you want your opinions to receive. Debbie certainly does that.
And now, her recipe for heirloom tomato tart:
Prep time: one hour, fifteen minutes
For the Crust:
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
- 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, mixed sizes and colors
- 2 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
- 1 jar heirloom tomato preserves
- Handful of fresh basil leaves
- Coarse sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the Tarts:
For the Garnish:
- Preheat oven to 380 degrees.
- Place flours, butter and cheese in food processor; pulse until mixture is loose.
- Add water until dough comes together and holds its shape.
- Turn dough into 9 or 10-inch tart pan, starting at the center and working out, press the dough into a pan in an even layer.
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- While dough chills, slice tomatoes thickly, then lay the slices out on paper towels and salt lightly.
- This will draw excess moisture out of the tomatoes.
- Remove the chilled tart shell from refrigerator and prick with tines of a fork, then line with parchment and fill with pie weights.
- Bake crust 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Remove pie weights.
- Spread heirloom tomato preserves in an even layer across the tart crust, then drop dollops of goat cheese across the preserve.
- Layer the cut tomatoes across the top, then return to oven for additional 20-25 minutes, until crust is deep golden brown.
- Garnish with basil leaves and sprinkle of sea salt.
- Drizzle with olive oil and serve tart at room temperature.