Tomato Mozzarella Basil Tart

I think we all know by now that most dishes featuring tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella are bound to be a hit, right?  Right.  There was no doubt in my mind that we would love this tart, and we certainly did!  After all, pizza margherita with tomatoes and herbs from our garden is one of my favorite foods ever!  This has a basic tart dough that is kicked up a notch by the addition of finely minced basil and garlic directly into the dough, which is a genius idea if you ask me.

I have been wanting to make a tart with tomatoes and mozzarella for quite a while, but knowing how both of these ingredients can release a lot of liquid when cooking, I was unsure of how this would turn out.  Once I saw this recipe though, I knew I had to at least try it.  I decided to use all cherry tomatoes because when sliced, the seeds inside squirt right out on their own, so you don’t have to spend any time removing it yourself.  Plus they look cute!  When I went to rotate the tart halfway through baking, I noticed that indeed it had started to collect some liquid on top so I just used a paper towel or two to wick off the excess moisture via the wonders of capillary action (high school science, anyone?)  It worked wonderfully and the tart went on to bake up with great results.

My one issue though was with the baking of the crust in relation to the other ingredients.  For many tart and pie recipes, sweet or savory, the recipe will call for blind baking the crust – essentially baking the empty crust without any filling for a short time to help achieve a nice texture on the bottom portion.  If the filling is simply place directly onto the crust and baked with no pre-baking of the crust (as indicated in the original recipe), the bottom doesn’t crisp up quite the way it should.  I have made enough tarts to have known better, but I decided to stick to the recipe for this first run and just popped it right into the oven, toppings and all.  I should have gone with my instinct.  It was bearable, but the texture would have benefited greatly from a little blind baking.  You live and learn, right?  Texture aside, this was a fantastic meal and Ben declared it, “Like pizza but better!”  While nothing beats pizza in my book, I loved this and think it would make an elegant addition to a brunch, a nice light lunch or a dinner.  I also think it would be wonderful made in mini-tart pans for individual servings.  Enjoy!

Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust
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For the dough:
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil

To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely minced.  Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine.  Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball.  If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms.  Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over a 9-inch round tart pan and press it into the sides.  Trim the excess dough as needed.  (I use this to reinforce the edges.)  Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads.  Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more.  Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.

Layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the sliced mozzarella.  Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places.  About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a towel if necessary. Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Ezra Pound Cake and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

40 Responses

  1. That tart is definitely a guaranteed winner!

  2. Mmmm – this looks super!

  3. What a great light lunch or dinner this must make. It looks wonderful.

  4. Wow, this looks incredible!!! I am impressed that your husband said it’s better than pizza! That’s huge!

    I wick away liquid by capillary action almost daily in the lab, haha 🙂

  5. Yum! I think you’ve inspired my lunch for the rest of the week!

  6. This looks divine! I’d love to sink my teeth into it whether soggy or not! The use of herbs in the crust is great. I basil, thyme, and oregano in most of my pizza crusts. It’s a lot better than the restaurants that sprinkle it around the edges, which ends up falling off all over the plate when you eat it.

  7. I wrote on a very similar tart this summer, only I used eggplant layered in with the tomatoes and smoked mozzarella. Tarts like these are such a great way to celebrate end of summer flavors!

    Lovely blog by the way. I just stumbled upon it when browsing through taste spotting. Nice work!

  8. Wow, what a stunning tart. A perfect dish for the fall. Just beautiful!

  9. haha my husband said the exact same thing as Ben. I say you can’t compare the 2. Yours looks great – I love the idea of using cherry tomatoes!

  10. Served with that salad, this makes me want to have some girls over for lunch. Beautiful!

  11. This looks amazing! If you were making it as individual tarts, would you recommend reducing all of the baking times (the pre-bake and after the filling was added)? I’m doing a girls’ night next weekend, and minis would be perfect!

    • Hi Jen,
      I would probably not adjust the baking time too much for individual tarts. Keep an eye on them of course, but I think they will need almost the same amount of time. Enjoy!
      🙂 Annie

  12. I have never baked a tart before, but how do you get it out of the baking mold without it breaking?

    • Hi Heather,
      The bottom of the tart pan pops right out so the sides come off easily. As long as the tart has been baked, it keeps its shape no problem.
      🙂 Annie

  13. Your herbed crust inspires me. Thanks GREG

  14. Looks very delicious….

  15. Oh wow this not only look beautiful it sound super delicious:)

  16. Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing. It looks delicious!

  17. This looks wonderful and I know it had to taste equally as wonderful!

  18. I just know that that tart was wonderful and it looks just beautiful to boost.

  19. Oh wow! This look so delicious! It looks so beautiful that it might be hard to cut into. My boyfriend would love this!

  20. I made this last night and it turned out beautifully. Thank you for the recipe!

  21. Hi,
    How long will the tart dough keep in the fridge?

    • Patricia,
      I’m not sure exactly, I always just bake it right away. It should be fine for at least a few days, or you can freeze it for longer.

  22. Annie,
    Could I substitute the tart pan with a different kind of pan? This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it! When my husband asks “What’s for dinner?” and I am making one of your recipes all I have to say is “It’s Annie’s recipe.” and he gets all excited to try it!!! 🙂

    • Julie,
      Probably but I’m not sure what would work best. Maybe a springform so you can still keep the depth fairly shallow. A tart pan is easiest because you can easily pop the tart out.

  23. Annie,
    I just love your site. Every single recipe you put up I want to make – and usually do! I have mostly been trying out your desserts. They are all the rage wherever I take them. I take photos of what I make and put them on my blog (always posting a link to your blog, of course). I’m not too good at the food photography yet, but I’m learning I guess. Tonight for dinner I made this tart. I think it was really my first non-dessert recipe of yours to try. I didn’t have a tart pan, so I just improvised with a pizza pan. It turned out absolutely delicious. So different from the norm at our house.
    Thanks for your faithfulness to this blog. It has brought to life a whole new hobby for me! Your recipes are so precise and easy to follow. I also appreciate that you have tried them yourself and make the changes you recommend in the recipe. The printer-friendly version makes things easy, too. Thanks for your dedication and all you share. You inspire me!

    • Thank you so much Tiffani! I always love hearing that my readers enjoy the blog. Glad I can provide some inspiration, that’s my main goal!

  24. I tried this recipe last Tuesday and it was so delicious. I really love the recipes that you post. Before I’ve had a couple of rather mixed experience with recipes from the internet, but everything I’ve tried from your site worked great so far. 🙂
    As for the pan issue discussed here earlier, my kitchen equipment is fairly limited and I just used a glass casserole, it worked really well, too, and the dough was not at all soggy in the middle.
    Actually what I’d like to know is if you have ever tried freezing such a dough? And just getting it out of the freezer a couple of hours before you want to start baking. Do you think it is possible? While I loved the recipe, after long working hours, waiting one hour for the dough to cool before baking, was really hard for me. 🙂

  25. This was so delicious! I will definitely be freezing this dough to keep on hand at all times =)

  26. Yum! What a great crust! My dough pulled away from the edges of the pan though. I’ll have to read up on some baking tips for next time.

  27. Hi Annie:

    Can this tart dough be made using a stand mixer? Unfortunately, I don’t have a food processor (yet).



    • Kristin,
      The only problem would be that the food processor is crucial to getting the basil and garlic minced extremely fine, to a consistency I know I wouldn’t be able to achieve with a knife. You can make any basic dough in a mixer but the chopping is the issue, and I don’t think it would be very good or pretty with big chunks of basil in the crust.

  28. I’m glad I asked ahead of time. Perhaps I can do the mincing/chopping in a blender and then transfer to a stand mixer for the making of the actual dough. Do you think that would work? This dish looks too appetizing to miss out on!

    • Kristin, I know in my own blender that would definitely not work. In my experience, blenders only do a good job of chopping things if they also have plenty of liquid in the mix. That is the beauty of a food processor, in my opinion, because it chops anything you put in it. Sorry!

  29. That’s okay – thanks for the tips!

  30. What are baking beads. I am making this now and I don’t have baking beads?
    Can I use something else?

  31. I actually did google it first and I wasn’t finding anything. Some people were saying to use marbles and I thought that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Sorry to bug you with my stupid questions. Again I just want to thank you for inspiring me to cook again. I was always the baker, not pies more like cakes and cupcakes and I didn’t enjoy cooking meals at all but your website has changed me completely and I find myself trying new things. I just bought a food processor for the first time for this particular recipe and OMG I love it. I am amazed at the things a food processor can Thanks again!! Sorry for all the questions.

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