Skip to main content

Get instant access to everything. 2-Week Free Trial

Make 2021 the year of “Why not?” in the kitchen with Digital All Access. Get all our recipes, videos, and up-to-date ratings and cook anything with confidence.

Get Free Access ▸

Upside-Down Tomato Tart

By Adam Ried Published

In summer, sweet fruit tarts usually get the limelight. Instead, this savory take showcases peak-season plum tomatoes punched up by a tangy glaze.

like the drama of an upside-down tart. The most famous example is a tarte Tatin, which consists of apples that are cooked in a caramel in a skillet; topped with pastry; baked; and inverted so that the pastry base wears the gleaming, deeply bronzed apple crown. It’s a treat that can’t help but impress. The framework has been adapted to seasonal fruits such as peaches, plums, and pears. So why not tomatoes? The bright, savory-sweet fruit would pair naturally with buttery pastry, and by adding components such as herbs and aromatics to a less-sweet stand-in for the caramel, I could easily shift my iteration from the traditional dessert squarely into savory territory.

The Building Blocks

Plenty of upside-down tarts use store-bought puff pastry, and I saw no reason not to do the same. Packaged puff bakes up decidedly crisp and is frankly quite good; plus, it’s a much easier alternative to preparing pie or biscuit dough from scratch since it needs only to be thawed, rolled out if necessary, and cut before it’s ready to go into the oven. As for the tomatoes, luscious beefsteaks are my go-to for eating raw, but their juiciness would be a detriment. Instead, I turned to plum tomatoes, a cooking variety with meaty flesh and a lower moisture content. I got to work prepping a couple pounds, coring and halving them and then digging out their seeds and liquid-y gel (I didn’t dispose of this flavorful stuff; see “How to Core and Seed Plum Tomatoes” for a suggested use).

How To Core and Seed Plum Tomatoes

Here’s how to core the 2 pounds of tomatoes in our tart quickly and with minimal waste. It’s important to remove all the seeds and gel from the halved fruit to prevent excess moisture from leaching into the crust.

  • Core with minimal waste 

    Hold the tomato in one hand with the stem scar facing out. Insert the tip of a paring knife at an angle into the tomato at the edge of the stem scar, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Using a sawing motion, cut around the stem scar while rotating the tomato until the core is cut free.

  • thoroughly excavate seeds and gel 

    Use your fingers or a spoon to get deep into the crevices on either side of the core to remove the seeds and gel. Save this flavorful jelly—which is packed with savory glutamates—to spoon over crusty bread; top it with a sprinkling of flake salt.

For a flavorful substitute for the caramel, I created a simple syrup by combining a modest 2½ tablespoons of sugar with ⅓ cup of sherry vinegar, cooking the mixture to thicken it and then enriching it with butter. I gently tossed the tomato halves in the syrup to coat them, fanned them around the pan, and simmered them for several minutes to help evaporate some moisture. Then I topped the syrup-slicked fruit with a 10-inch round of puff pastry and popped the whole thing into a 400-degree oven.

Minced thyme and shallot help bring a savory dimension to this no-fuss summer tart.

Watershed Moment

When I inverted the skillet, the tomatoes detached easily from its bottom. As I’d hoped, the syrup contributed just the right amount of sweetness, with balance and complexity from the vinegar and a faint richness and sheen from the butter. But the tomatoes hadn’t browned, and the pastry was so soggy that its flaky layers had fused together. Even though I was working with low‑moisture tomatoes, there was clearly still more liquid to get rid of. In my next test, I let the tomatoes cook in the syrup for a good 15 minutes before I topped them with pastry and slid them into the oven. When this measure barely made a dent, I salted the seeded halves and allowed them to drain before proceeding with the recipe. But even in combination, these steps proved woefully inadequate.

A Tart with Ultratomatoey Flavor and a Crisp Crust

Parcooking the tomatoes in the oven is the key to our tart’s success.

  • ROAST TOMATOES 

    After reducing the tangy syrup, we add the tomatoes to the skillet and roast them for a full hour, concentrating their flavor.

  • BAKE WITH PASTRY 

    With much of the fruit’s moisture driven off, the store-bought puff pastry placed over top bakes up golden brown and crisp.

  • INVERT TART 

    Turning out the finished tart reveals lightly caramelized fruit gleaming with a sweet-tart glaze crowning the flaky, buttery base.

Get Roasted

A better, simpler idea dawned on me: I would roast the tomatoes so that the dry heat of the oven would evaporate more of their moisture from all sides. I once again made a vinegar syrup, shingled the tomatoes around the pan, and then roasted them at 400 degrees for an hour. The results were well worth it: The tomatoes had an even meatier texture and a more concentrated flavor. And the syrupy glaze had tightened in the oven, its sugar helping the fruit brown and caramelize around the edges. Best of all, after I’d topped the roasted tomatoes with the pastry and baked the tart for about 30 minutes, the crust retained its delicate crispness.

Recipe Upside-Down Tomato Tart

In summer, sweet fruit tarts usually get the limelight. Instead, this savory take showcases peak-season plum tomatoes punched up by a tangy glaze.

Leave a comment and join the conversation!

0 Comments
Read & post comments with a free account
Join the conversation with our community of home cooks, test cooks, and editors.
First Name is Required
Last Name is Required
Email Address is Required
How we use your email?
Password is Required
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.