Rosemary Cheddar Cheese Straw Tomato Tart + Shallot Bacon Vinaigrette (AKA: The Ultimate BLT)

I'm back!! And I have an amazing recipe to share! I know I haven't posted in a LONG time, but I have a few recipes I've been working on lately that should be up soon. Honestly, I've had no motivation to write at all and besides that, I really don't have anything to write about at all.

The only exciting thing that has happened in my summer so far is my little trip to Nashville I took with some friends last week. It was so, so fun, and we had some REALLY delicious food (and some not-so-delicious food too...) 


On the first night, we went to a burger place called Burger Republic in the Gulch. I got one with avocado, bacon, gouda, a sunny-side up egg, and tomato jam-- it was insanely delicious and so, so juicy-- and this is coming from someone who's not really a burger person. The sweet potato tots were amazing too:) And to top it off, we had some crazy sweet and decadent and rich milkshakes (I got the chocolate peanut butter one obviously!)

The next day we went to the Juice Bar in the Green Hills area. We all got acai bowls and smoothies which were so refreshing! I'm a huge smoothie girl and where I live, the closest thing you can get to one is from McDonalds, so you could say I was in heaven. 

We also went to a place called Pinewood Social. The food was okay, but the dessert was kind of terrible. We all got skillet cookies and they were all overcooked and dry, but it's okay because the atmosphere was really cute, AND they have a hip little bowling alley! I definitely think it's a fun place to go, though! Just stick to some of the basic stuff like appetizers and burgers!

The last place we went to was a tapas place called Bartaco-- by far my favorite restaurant we went to! How you order is so cool too... it's a sit-down restaurant, but you're given a small menu with a checklist to mark what you want! There are tons of small plates to choose from-- tamales, beans, rice bowls, plantains, salads, and of course a million different tacos. The only thing bad about it is that it's so easy to go overboard... I ended up having like 6 small plates..... oops... it was all so worth it, though! Oh, and by the way--- best guacamole and churros I've ever had!
And the trip wouldn't have been complete without a quick stop to Sprinkles- the cupcake ATM, where I had a huge red velvet cupcake (because the churros just weren't enough...)

Okay, I swear we did more than eat on this trip! But the food was definitely a fun part of it.

Even though all this reminiscing about the trip and the amazing food has been enough for one post, I was too excited to even think about taking pictures! So, today we're talking about another accidental recipe...

I know, I know... these happen too often, but when I cook it's all trial and error. Most of the time, things totally change from my original idea, and just sometimes it turns out for the better!
Luckily, this was one of those times. My mom and I went to our city's teeny-tiny farmer's market this Saturday and got a bucket-load of green and Arkansas Traveller's tomatoes. We used some of the green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes, but I wanted to do something different with the rest of them. My original idea was a tomato tart with a rosemary-cheddar cornmeal crust. Turns out the cornmeal I used was self-rising, which made my crust puff up a lot more... But it's okay because guess what... the crust came out like A CHEESE STRAW. I accidentally made a cheese straw crust, and I'm so dang excited about it.
Also, I topped it all off with a bacon-shallot vinaigrette, fresh arugula, and parmesan. So a BLT tart it is. 

I mean how perfect is this for the summer?? Fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market + anything BLT....... 

P.S. You can totally make this using a regular pie crust-- I made another one (more of a rustic galette type thing) with some frozen pie crust we had in the fridge because I was worried about my crust being too crumbly. Both versions are delicious! I just rolled out the thawed dough and filled the tomatoes in it just like the cheese straw one! It was done in half the time of the original one, too.

The Ultimate BLT Tart
 (Rosemary-Cheddar Cheese Straw Crust + Pepper Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette)

For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup self-rising stone-ground cornmeal (if not using self-rising, add 1/2 tsp. baking powder)
  • 1 stick (8 tbs.) cold butter (cubed)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. black pepper
  • 2 tbs. fresh rosemary (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp. fresh OR dried thyme (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. each dried onion and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar OR honey
  • 1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
Pre-heat oven to 375ยบ.
Put all ingredients except cheese and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until it turns into a course mixture. Pulse in the oil and cheese until dough forms into a ball. Take out knead in any leftover flour or crumbs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight (thaw for 1 hour if too hard). 
On a floured surface, roll out until about 1/4 inch thick, but make sure there are no holes. Press into a buttered/floured pie pan, poke the bottom with a fork, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes covered with foil. Take out, remove foil, and let cool for a few minutes before filling with tomatoes.

For the filling/egg wash:
  • 2 large red tomatoes-thinly sliced & pat dried 
  • 3 small green tomatoes- thinly sliced & pat dried
  • 3 tbs. grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 beaten egg + pinch cayenne pepper + salt + pepper
Arrange the tomatoes, layering them to fill the par-baked crust. Season each layer with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, since tomatoes need a lot of seasoning to retain flavor. Top with grated parmesan cheese and olive oil, and brush the edges of the crust with the egg wash. Bake for another 35-40 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and a golden brown color. If the crust looks like it's getting too dark, cover edges with foil. Take out and let cool.

For the bacon-shallot vinaigrette:
  • 4 slices pepper bacon (I like pepper bacon because it enhances the pepper in the crust and the peppery-ness of the arugula; you can use any kind though)
  • 1 shallot- minced
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tbs. apple cider vinegar (depending on how much bacon fat you have; I had about 1/3 cup and used 4 tbs. vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp. dried cayenne
Dice the bacon and cook it on low heat in a non-stick skillet or use 1 tbs. oil if using a regular skillet.. Cook until bacon is crispy, scoop out, and set aside. Cook the shallot for 1-2 minutes in the leftover bacon grease on low heat until golden brown. Pour all oil, shallots, and bacon remains in a jar. Add in all other vinaigrette ingredients and shake. Refrigerate to cool until ready to serve.

Top tart with fresh arugula, shaved parmesan, fresh parsley, leftover bacon, and vinaigrette. EAT!

Warning: It's a fairly messy dish, and while the crust is delicious, it's crumbly. 

Cecilia A.


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