I wait all year for my heirloom tomatoes to become ripe. From the smell of the plants to the funky shapes and colors of the tomatoes themselves, I love everything about them.
However a week or so ago, I went out to pick the first ripe one only to find that some critter had taken a nice big bite out of it already. GASP! I figured it was a fluke…until it happened again and again. Every afternoon I would check my tomatoes to see what would be ripe in the morning and every morning the newly ripe one would be compromised. Was it a squirrel? Rabbits? My dog, Lena? The creature was smart enough to only eat the ripe ones. This was war and not one I planned to lose.
I still haven’t figured out the culprit but my battle tactic has been to cage my plants with chicken wire. So far it seems to be working and I’ve been able to harvest a pile of gorgeous tomatoes to make this Heirloom Tomato & Three Cheese Tart and an all-fresh batch of our favorite Heirloom Tomato Soup. I’ve heard tales of pepper-vinegar sprays, dog hair, coffee grounds, netting and more deterring animals as well but haven’t tried them.
Have you had issues with garden thieves? How do you prevent animals from eating your tomatoes? What worked or didn’t work for you?
Heirloom Tomato & Three Cheese Tart
1 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C shortening
1 C ice water
1/s tsp vinegar
1/2 C low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 C half & half
4 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
pinch black pepper
1-2 heirloom tomatoes
1-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
handful basil, chiffonade
drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375. Combine ice, water and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Cut in small balls of shortening, spreading them throughout flour. Spoon in 2-3 Tbsp of vinegar water and use a pastry cutter or your hands to work into a dough. Add more water, one Tbsp at a time until dough holds together but is not too sticky. (Tip: If you overdo it with the water, just add a sprinkle more flour to dry things out). Use your hands to push dough into an 11×7 tart pan, working dough evenly up the sides and flattening evenly across the bottom.
In another small bowl, whisk together ricotta, egg, half and half and parmesan cheese until creamy and well-combined. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour filling over dough. Bake for 10 minutes to just set filling. Remove from oven and layer tomatoes and goat cheese on top. Bake for another 30 minutes. Cool slightly and top with basil and a light drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
More Tomato Recipes: FoodNetwork.com Summer Fest
We’re participating in FoodNetwork.com‘s Summer Fest summer vegetable recipe round up with lots of other great food bloggers! Check out these other tasty-looking tomato dishes with the rest of your garden bounty:
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Chicken with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce
What’s Gaby Cooking: Zebra Tomato and Burrata Crostini
Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Roasted Tomato-Basil Ice
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox – Garlic Tomato Basil Pesto Bruchetta
Chez Us: Roasted Tomato Sauce
Daily*Dishin: Refreshing and Rustic – Tuscan Bread Salad
Glory Foods: Fresh Tomato Salsa
Dishin and Dishes: Tomato Tart Tatin
The Purple Cook: Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Salad
I Am Mommy: Tomato Crudite
Cooking With My Kid: Gluten-Free White Bean Chive Cakes with Heirloom Tomatoes
FN Dish: Easy Tomato Appetizers
Add a Pinch: Simple Caprese Salad Skewers
Sweet Life Bake: Salsa Cruda
Virtually Homemade: Farfalle with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Bacon and Shaved Romano
Dixie Chik Cooks: Tomato, Basil and Olive Bruschetta
The Sensitive Epicure: Yemista – Greek Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers with Potatoes
Mooshu Jenne: Sun Burst Tomato Pasta
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Book Club, Tomatoes and a Recipe for Chicken Provençal?
Cooking With Elise: Tomato Parmesan Biscuits
From My Corner of Saratoga: Cooking from the Garden – Bruschetta Pizza
Fritos and Foie Gras: Tomato Terrine
Creative Culinary: Fresh and Savory Tomato Pie
Big Apple Nosh: Caprese Salad/Tomato Carnage
Spices and Aroma: Quick and Easy Paneer Curry
Zaika Zabardast: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Breakfast Rolls