Before we jump into this recipe, let me take a moment to pen a love letter to tomatoes. I love tomatoes. They are delicious and healthy. And beautiful. And versatile! My husband once took me to a restaurant in Vancouver that had a special menu for one month of the summer where every dish featured tomatoes. It was my dream menu. The menu of my dream restaurant. In my own personal tomato heaven.
Ahem, anyway. This tarte tatin trades its classic apple filling for tomatoes and caramelized onions, and in my (biased) opinion that’s an upgrade.
Begin by caramelizing an onion in a 10-in oven-safe sauté pan. This isn’t complicated, but it’s probably the most time consuming step of the whole process. I like to set mine to a very low heat and let it take its time, only giving it a stir every 5-10 minutes. It’s an exercise in patience. The slower you cook it, the better it will be.
Pro-tip that I picked up from the folks at Ciao Thyme in Bellingham (my favorite local chefs/life idols): Cut a piece of parchment paper into a large circle with a hole in it and place that over the pan. This will keep steam inside and help your onions to melt into submission. It’s a neat trick. I’m gonna call it a chimney funnel. It almost certainly has a more official name but I like chimney funnel.
While your onion is slowly reaching caramelized perfection, make your tart dough. (Alternatively, you can sub store-bought puff pastry for this step and I bet that would be super tasty. But hey, what else are you going to do while that onion cooks? May as well get to work.)
I used a savory dough recipe from Bon Appétit. It makes an upper and lower crust for a pie, so for one tarte tatin you can halve the recipe or save your second crust for another day. I subbed vodka for the ice water, and I actually added less liquid than it wanted, because the consistency seemed right without the last few tablespoons of the vinegar/vodka mix. (If you don’t know me, this is an important lesson to learn right now: I hate following recipes, and I always have to change something just because.)
Alright, now your dough is chilling in the fridge and your onion is melting on the stove top. Now’s a great time to preheat the oven (to 400°F) and prep your tomatoes. I used heirloom cherry tomatoes for this tart, because they’re just too cute. Cut your tomatoes in half and lay them cut-side down to dry out just a bit. Tell them to sit tight while you tend to a couple of other things.
What is that heavenly smell? Check on your onion. When it is caramelized to your satisfaction, remove from the pan and set aside. Now you’ll use the same pan to create a caramel that holds your tart toppings together.
Combine the butter and olive oil in the pan over medium heat, and sprinkle in the sugar. Don’t stir, just swirl. When the sugar has melted, add minced garlic and continue cooking over medium heat. Once your carmel is brown, remove the pan from the heat and add your herbs and balsamic vinegar. Don’t hold your face over the pan. Your lungs will not like that.
Arrange your tomatoes cut-side down in the pan. Make them real cozy with each other, and even let them go up the sides of the pan a bit. Sprinkle your caramelized onions over the tomatoes, and then lay your rolled-out pastry on top. Tuck in the edges a bit and prick the top with a fork a few times. Bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let the tart cool slightly before attempting to flip. On our first flip attempt, we had a couple tomatoes that stuck to the pan. We put the pan back down and pounded on the bottom of it a little. This is not a fancy culinary technique. See name of blog.
After putting the rogue tomatoes back into their assigned places, the finished tarte tatin looked spectacular. And it tasted amazing too. This crust has many flaky layers, and the flavor the tomatoes take on is unreal. This is a great dish to serve at brunch you’re hosting, and it traveled well too.
- 4T butter, separated
- 1 large (or 2 small) yellow onions
- 1T olive oil
- 2T granulated sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- balsamic vinegar
- ~1 lb of cherry tomatoes
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme/rosemary/herbs of choice
- salt & pepper
- Bon Appétit’s all-butter pie dough (halve recipe or save second crust for later)
Melt 2T butter in 10″ oven-proof sauté pan. Slice onion thinly and caramelize over low heat.
While onions are caramelizing, prepare pie dough. Cut tomatoes, laying them cut-side down on a paper towel to drain slightly.
When onions are done, remove from pan and set aside. In same pan, add 2T butter and 1T olive oil. Bring to medium heat and sprinkle 2T granulated sugar evenly around pan. Let the mixture turn to caramel, occasionally swirling but not stirring. After a few minutes, add minced garlic.
Once caramel has browned, remove from heat and add a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar to pan (careful not to lean over the pan while doing this; you don’t want to breathe those vapors). Add your fresh herbs at this time.
Arrange tomatoes in bottom of pan, cut-side down. Add caramelized onions and season with salt and pepper. Lay rolled-out pie dough on top, tucking in the edges beside and under the tomatoes. Prick the dough with a fork a few times, and bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool slightly, then flip onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.