Calling All Mater Mavens
Calling All Mater Mavens
Written by Kate Lundquist
Lollipop, Cherokee Purple, and Green Zebra are just a few of the juicy heirloom tomato varieties ripe for the pickin’ in gardens across Western North Carolina. And Chef William Dissen of The Market Place restaurant in Asheville has teamed up with Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Get Local campaign to showcase those fresh beauties. The Homegrown Tomato Contest & Party on Saturday, August 11, offers the chance to uncover the loveliest and ugliest (there are categories for both), while sampling tomato hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
Gardeners can bring two homegrown tomatoes, as well as one ugly fruit. ASAP Director Charley Jackson, Ingles’ dietitian Leah McGrath, and Dissen will judge the entries based on flavor, color, shape and appearance, and texture. Prizes include a $100 gift certificate to The Market Place, seeds from local business Sow True Seed Company, $25 to spend at Asheville City Market, and a pass to ASAP’s Farm Tour September 22-23. The contest adheres to the farm-to-table model Dissen has utilized to transform his restaurant, which sources most of its ingredients from within a 100-mile radius. “The heirloom tomato is the pinpoint of summer and a great way to celebrate the local harvest,” Dissen says. “If there is anywhere to embrace local food, Asheville is the spot.” After the party, the restaurant will feature a dinner menu replete with tomato dishes. Read on to prepare Dissen’s tomato tart at home.
Homegrown Tomato Contest & Party
Preheat oven to 425°F. On a floured surface, lightly roll out puff pastry sheets to create 12-by-12-inch squares. Using a six-inch round mold, cut two circles from each pastry for a total of four pastries. Place on parchment-lined sheet trays and refrigerate.
In a sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, then stir in garlic and cook until tender and onions caramelize. Add red wine and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in thyme and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Using a paring knife, score a one-fourth inch border around each puff pastry. Prick inside the circle with a fork to aerate pastry. Staying inside the scored edge, sprinkle one tablespoon of Parmesan and layer with one-fourth of onion mixture, one ounce of chèvre, topping with tomato slice. Brush tomato lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and top with basil and a tablespoon of Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pastries. Bake tarts on a sheet pan for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Cut each pastry in half and serve with mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.