How to make Bar Reyna owner Nicki Laborie’s savoury tomato tart
“There’s nothing better in this world than a perfectly ripe tomato,” says Nicki Laborie, the owner of Bar Reyna in Yorkville and Corktown’s Reyna on King. “You want to savour them, because you know it’s going to be another nine months before you can get local tomatoes again.” Thankfully, this recipe works well with just about any tomato, regardless of season or provenance; they might not be as sweet as during peak season, but since they’re going to be baked, the end result doesn’t change. (Laborie prefers San Marzano or Roma tomatoes when they’re at their peak, but cherry tomatoes are a good anytime option.) “My mom is always creating new recipes and hosting dinner parties, but this is one of her classics. She’s made this for me since I was a kid, and I still crave it,” says Laborie. “Whenever I visit her, she makes me two tartes. One to eat together, and one for me to take home.”
8 tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 tbsp iced water
1 ½-2 lb. tomatoes, cut into ½-inch slices
1 sweet onion, sliced
½ cup grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese
1 lightly beaten egg white
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 pitted black olives (preferably Nice or Maroc)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh thyme
6 leaves fresh basil
¼ cup olive oil
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Serves 4 to 6
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, flour and a pinch of salt. Slowly add water until dough forms into a smooth ball. Wrap in cling wrap and leave to chill in the fridge. (You can also use a frozen pie crust or puff pastry.)
2. Preheat the oven to 285°F.
3. Toss the sliced tomatoes with the olive oil and place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and a pinch of sugar
(or a little maple syrup or honey). Bake for 90 minutes, turning gently every 30 minutes and basting them in their own juices. The tomatoes are done when they are caramelized. Let cool.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking, in another pan, sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat with salt, pepper, thyme, a pinch of sugar and a touch of balsamic vinegar until tender and caramelized (about 20 to 25 minutes).
4. Use a rolling pin (or wine bottle) to roll out the pie crust dough until very thin—1/4 inch or less. Butter and flour a 10-inch pie plate and line with the pastry. Prick pastry all over with a fork.
5. Heat oven to 400°F. Blind-bake the pie shell (by covering with a layer of parchment paper weighed down with dried beans or rice) for 15 minutes on the lower rack. Remove the parchment paper and weights. Brush the crust with the lightly beaten egg white. Continue cooking for 10 minutes at 375°F. Remove and let cool.
6. Pit the olives and chop them along with the garlic and thyme, and cut the basil leaves into thin strips. Mix with 1 tbsp olive oil.
7. Brush the Dijon mustard on the cooled pie crust. Cover with the caramelized onions, top with the grated cheese, then lay the tomatoes in an overlapping pattern and pour over any cooking juices from the tomatoes. Spread the olive mixture over the top.
8. Cover with foil and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for five more minutes, until tomatoes are lightly golden.