This cherry tomato and sweet pepper tart isn't just colorful and bright, it's also one of the best ways to use up excess puff pastry. I've wanted to share this recipe with all of you for a while; the hardest part was sitting down and actually putting measurements to it.
I usually only make this tart when I've made something else that uses puff pastry, like tuna melt hand pies, or samosa pot pie. I hate throwing anything away, so I always save the scrap pastry trimmings. Jimmy doesn't like tomatoes or peppers (I know, I don't get it either) so I get to treat myself to a fancy lil tomato and pepper snack tart for one.
Because it's so small, I like to pack a ton of flavor into a very small space. Layering the tomatoes and peppers over each other on a sheet of flaky puff pastry brushed with a garlic and shallot olive oil mixture means you get a little of everything in every bite.
You can, of course, scale this up to use a full sheet of frozen puff pastry. It's just as easy to make a full size tomato and sweet pepper tart as it is to make a mini one. You may want to use full-size heirloom tomatoes and peppers in that case, but you do you.
The best part about this recipe is that there's absolutely no finesse or technique to the crust. No crust, no crimping, nothing. Just roll out a rectangle or circle of puff pastry, trim the edges, and you're ready to bake.
Since I usually improvise when making this tomato and pepper tart, when I sat down to write out the recipe, I thought about what my perfect version would be. And in my perfect world, if I'm making this tart, I always have a colorful medley of cherry tomatoes and mini sweet peppers on hand.
The medley of colors in both the tomatoes and the peppers brings a good mix of sweet and slightly-tart flavors that really come to life with the addition of lemon zest, garlic, shallot, and olive oil. The parmesan cheese — freshly grated, of course — is salty and slightly nutty, keeping each bite savory, without being too sweet or too tart.
It smells so, so good when you take it out of the oven, too. It bakes for about 20-25 minutes during which the puff pastry browns and rises with beautiful flaky layers.
The tomatoes and peppers are so small and delicate and I love how their flavors intensify as they burst and shrivel in the oven. But what I really love is how the bright acid flavor of the lemon zest keeps the tomatoes still tasting fresh, like you're biting into a raw tomato at the peak of summer.
So if you're looking for a quick and easy way to use up some scrap pastry from another recipe, this is for sure a recipe you want to keep in your back pocket. And if you just really love a tomato tart but don't want to share — you really can't go wrong with this one.
tips for the best tart
- No matter how much puff pastry you're using, you want to roll it to about ¼" thick. The bake time won't change much. You'll just want to check it earlier in the bake time if it's on the smaller side, and it might need an extra 5-10 minutes if its on the bigger side.
- The smallest tart you can make is about a 2"-3" diameter circle. Just one or two rings of pepper, one or two rings of tomato, and some thinly sliced shallot, with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. You could even make a bunch of little appetizer tarts by punching 2"-3" rings out of the puff pastry.
- Store bought frozen puff pastry is perfectly acceptable to use here. (Pepperidge Farm's standard frozen puff pastry is vegan, fwiw). If you want to make puff pastry from scratch, I like to use the pastry dough from my tuna melt hand pies (use half or a quarter the amount for this recipe).
- Puff pastry freezes really well, so if you have scrap pastry and aren't ready to make this right away, shape the scrap pastry into a disc, wrap it in saran wrap, put it in an airtight bag and stick it in the freezer. Let it defrost in the fridge for a few hours before you roll it out.
- I used my fave NatureSweet Constellation tomatoes here. I'm a big fan of NatureSweet's cherry tomatoes in general because they last a long time in the fridge, they're always super flavorful, and I appreciate how they're clearly labeled for different uses. For this tart I like the Constellation pack, which is a medley of NatureSweet's best tomatoes and brings a variety of tomato flavors to the tart. (This post is not sponsored by NatureSweet, I just really like their tomatoes. That said, NatureSweet, if you see this: call me!)
- I use mini sweet peppers here because I like their color and flavor, but if you wanted something with a little more heat you could use bright red Fresno peppers, or even jalapeño peppers. For either of those you really will want to make sure you remove every last seed or you'll end up with at least one very spicy bite of tart.
- As always with puff pastry, to get those nice flaky layers you want to keep the dough as chilled as possible. The butter in the dough turns into steam in the oven which creates the flaky layers. If you let the dough get too warm, the butter will melt into the dough and you won't get nice layers. Keep the dough in the fridge until you have all the toppings prepped.
- When you're rolling out the dough, use just enough flour to keep it from sticking. Raw flour doesn't taste great, so before you brush the dough with olive oil and put the toppings on, brush any excess flour off the surface — and check the bottom to make sure there isn't any flour trapped below.
constellation cherry tomato and sweet pepper puff pastry tart
- 8 oz puff pastry (its ok if you have more or less than this!)
- 10-12 NatureSweet ConstellationTM tomatoes
- 3 mini sweet peppers (one red, one orange, one yellow)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small shallot
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- zest of ½ a lemon
- salt & pepper
- finely grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 357°F with a rack in the middle setting.
- Slice the top and tip off of the three mini sweet peppers. Use your fingers to remove the seeds and ribs from inside. Then slice the peppers into thin rounds.
- Slice the tomatoes into thin rings. If you imagine a line drawn from the stem end to the tip of the tomato, you should be slicing across that line.
- Set the tomatoes and peppers aside.
- In a small bowl combine olive oil, garlic, and shallot with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Take your pastry dough out of the fridge. Roll it out into a square or circle approximately ¼" thick. I like to use a pastry wheel or pizza cutter to give myself straight edges, but you do you.
- Transfer the pastry to a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet and dock it all over with a fork. This lets steam escape so the puff pastry doesn't bubble up awkwardly when it bakes.
- Brush the pastry dough all over with the olive oil mixture, all the way to the edges.
- Arrange the peppers and tomatoes in rows, overlapping each other as needed, across the surface of the dough, leaving about ¼" margin all the way around.
- Use a microplane to sprinkle lemon zest down across the tart, followed by a generous dusting of parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheet pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the edges of the tart are a deep golden brown with lots of flaky layers.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Slice into wedges or squares and serve immediately.
- Keep the puff pastry chilled right up until you're ready to roll it out. If it gets too warm, the butter in it will melt and you won't get flaky layers.
- If you're making a smaller version, start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes. If you're making a bigger version, you might need to let it go an extra 5 minutes in the oven.
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