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Tomato tart uses flaky phyllo base

Tomato Phyllo Tart uses fresh red and yellow tomatoes. The dish is similar to pizza but packs much more flavor with its pesto and feta.
Tomato Phyllo Tart uses fresh red and yellow tomatoes. The dish is similar to pizza but packs much more flavor with its pesto and feta.
Larry Crowe, Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — Time for a culinary confession.

Aside from those that are my own, most of the recipes that make this column don't make repeat performances in my home once the testing is completed. Even my own sometimes are one-hit-wonders.

It's not that they aren't good. Quite the opposite, actually. When trying new recipes is part of your job, week after week, year after year, the opportunities for repeats — even the greats — aren't great.

That said, occasionally I stumble upon a dish so good and so easy to make that I can't help but bring it back for an encore or so. It doesn't happen often, but it's a cause for celebration when it does.

Such was the case recently when I experimented with a tomato tart from the summer issue of EatingWell magazine.

Whether sweet or savory, tarts excel at highlighting not just the fresh flavors of seasonal produce, but also at presenting them in an endearing rustic style.

But the problem with tarts, and the reason I so infrequently make them, is that most use a pastry crust base that relies on fussy blends of cold flour and chilled butter. I generally fail at anything so finicky.

EatingWell's tart stands out because it replaces regular pastry with an equally flaky but easier base made from packaged sheets of phyllo, the parchment-thin dough used in so much Greek cooking.


TOMATO PHYLLO TART

(Preparation 1 hour 20 minutes, 30 minutes active)

12 sheets 14-by-18-inch phyllo dough (or 24 sheets 9-by-14-inch)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon plain bread crumbs

2 tablespoons pesto

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 large red tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 large yellow tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

10 to 12 small fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay one large sheet of phyllo dough on the prepared pan. (If using smaller sheets of phyllo, slightly overlap two sheets to form a rectangle.)

Keep the remaining phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap or wax paper and a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out — which happens quickly.

Lightly brush or mist the surface of the phyllo sheet with oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon bread crumbs. Repeat these steps until all phyllo sheets have been layered.

Brush or mist the final sheet of phyllo with oil. Form a rim by folding about 3/4 inch of each side toward the center.

Spread the pesto evenly over the surface of the tart. Sprinkle about half the crumbled feta over the pesto. Arrange the tomato slices, alternating colors, over the pesto and feta. Season with salt and pepper, then top with remaining feta.

Bake the tart until the crust turns brown and crispy, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. To serve, lift the parchment paper and slide the tart onto a cutting board or large platter.

Scatter basil leaves over the top of the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 3 to 4 servings as a main course, or 12 appetizer servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 145 cal., 4 g pro., 12 g carbo., 9 g fat, 304 mg sodium, 9 mg chol.

—Recipe from summer 2004 issue of EatingWell: The Magazine of Food & Health