Now that fall is officially here I find myself already nostalgic for the warmth of summer and the abundance of produce that accompanies it, especially tomatoes. Sweet, juicy, and delicious tomatoes.

 

Not only are tomatoes some of the prettiest and most colorful foods around, but they are also incredibly nutritious and contain high levels of Lycopene, a vital anti-oxidant that promote healthy function of the heart and blood vessels, and protects against the formation of cancerous cells.

 

My favorite way to eat these beautiful fruits is in thick slices, standing at the kitchen counter with a salt shaker in hand. They are an especially hydrating post yoga or workout snack as they have a high water content.

 

 

As a last warm weather hoorah, I splurged on these beautiful heirloom tomatoes at my local co-op last week. I wanted to do something really special with them since I knew it would be the last time we met for awhile, as the hothouse tomatoes that are available year round make me a little sad.

 

I finally settled on a polenta and goat cheese tart which I adapted from a Whole Foods recipe. The crust was absolutely phenomenal, it was rich and savory and perfectly offset the lightness of the tomatoes and goat cheese. The fresh basil lent it a delicious summery taste and enhanced the delicate sweetness of the heirlooms.

 

I served the tart while it was still warm, with a simple shaved fennel and arugula salad and thick hunks of crusty bread. It was the perfect lunch, rustic yet elegant, and because it was so simple to prepare and lovely to look at, it would also make a great entree for a last minute dinner party.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup finely ground dry polenta (cornmeal)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 4 large heirloom tomatoes (any tomato variety will do if heirlooms are unavailable)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves thinly sliced or torn
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil a 10-inch tart pan with removable base with olive oil cooking spray and set aside.

 

Combine polenta with water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Stir in the grated cheese and continue to stir 3 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer polenta to prepared tart pan. Spread it evenly over bottom and up sides of pan. Bake until dry and crisp on edges, about 30 minutes.

 

Remove from oven and spread a thin layer of goat cheese over crust. Arrange tomatoes on top of the cheese. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes longer, until the cheese is softened and tomatoes are heated through. Before serving, remove the sides from the tart pan and sprinkle top with basil and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.