Herbal Escape: Heirloom Tomato-Mozzarella Tart

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Howard Lee Puckett
From appetizers to desserts, most dishes at Chicago's North Pond restaurant include herbs.

<em>Serves 4</em>
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Heirloom tomato varieties, such as ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Striped German’, have wonderful, rich flavors and meaty textures. Fresh basil complements their flavor without overpowering it.</p>
<p>• 1?2 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed<br />
• 1 tablespoon olive oil<br />
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced<br />
• Salt and black pepper<br />
• 3 medium red heirloom tomatoes<br />
• 3 medium yellow heirloom tomatoes<br />
• ¾ pound fresh mozzarella (about 3 balls)<br />
• 1 bunch fresh basil<br />
• Extra virgin olive oil</p>
<p>1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw puff pastry. Add olive oil to a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 to 30 minutes, until onions are a rich golden brown. Set aside.<br />
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2. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch square. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Prick throughout with a fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.<br />
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3. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. When pastry is cool, use plate or cutter to cut 5-inch diameter rounds of pastry.<br />
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4. Slice tomatoes into 1?8-inch rounds; slice mozzarella into thin rounds. Remove and reserve tops of basil for garnish. Pick 15 to 20 leaves, stack them together, then slice into very thin strips.<br />
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5. To assemble tarts, place pastry circles on counter. On each, spread a thin layer of browned onions. Alternate layers and colors of tomatoes with cheese–red tomato, cheese, yellow tomato, cheese–atop onions, around circumference of tarts. You should fit 3 red, 3 yellow and 6 cheese rounds around each.<br />
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6. Place tarts back on baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with basil; season with salt and pepper. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until cheese melts and begins to brown. Garnish with reserved basil.</p>
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<strong>Herbal Escape: North Pond Restaurant in Chicago</strong>

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