So here’s the thing. I’m waiting on the newest book by David Leite called Notes on a Banana: a Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression. I’m looking forward to reading this because he is one of my food heroes. And frankly, I’m just impressed as all heck by the title. Way to put it out there, friend. Myself, I prefer the term bipolar, or BP, but lots of things have many names, like this crostata. It’s also known as an open faced tart, a galette, or a tartine. I’m sure there are half a dozen names I’m unaware of.
Not everyone knows this about me (yet), but David and I share a diagnosis. I’ve never just put it out there, but I’ve had to do all kinds of other difficult, uncomfortable-making stuff, and lately I’m just leaning into the brave, strong, valiant BP that I am. Here is a recipe that is inspired by one I found on David’s amazing blog, Leite’s Culinaria. The picture is as imperfect as the crostata itself, as imperfect as my first class teaching this recipe, as imperfect as my recipes are, as imperfect as my skill set is, as imperfect as my grief journey. All of it occasionally messy and chaotic and manic and depressed. All of it fully lived.
Roasted Tomato, Aged Cheddar and Bacon Crostata
Serves 6 to 8
Prep time: about 1 hour, Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
- 6 tablespoons (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into small pieces
- 5 tablespoons ice water
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes (I prefer Roma for their smaller size), sliced about ½” thick
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoons high-heat oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Pinch of sugar
- ½ pound bacon, or more as desired (8-12 slices)
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 12 to 16 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- 1/3 pound aged or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or mascarpone cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flour and ¼ teaspoon salt together. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 16 times, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 2 ½ tablespoons water and pulse; add more water by the tablespoon until the dough just comes together. If you do not have a food processor, whisk the dry ingredients quickly in a large mixing bowl, gently blend in the butter with a pastry cutter, then sprinkle the water over and mix until it just comes together.
Roll the dough into a ball, then flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan or other high-sided baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with ¼ cup oil, rosemary, salt, pepper and sugar. Roast on a rack set in the lower third of the oven for minutes, or until very soft and dark brown. Turn the pan once or twice to ensure even browning. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, arrange bacon on a sheet pan or other high-sided baking sheet, lined with foil. Place on the center rack and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges begin to curl on the sides and much of the fat has rendered. Carefully remove the pan from the oven, pour the fat into a heatproof container, and return to the oven to cook for 5 to 10 more minutes, or until the bacon is lightly crisped. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Blot excess fat, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Let cool completely.
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Let cool and combine with the basil.
Position a baking rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a sheet pan or other high-sided baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch round; transfer to the sheet pan. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the surface, leaving a one-inch border around the edge. Combine the bacon, onions and crème fraiche; season with salt and pepper. Place this mixture over the cheese layer. Cover with the roasted tomatoes, then finish with the remaining cheese. Fold edges over, making a fold once every few inches.
Whisk together the egg and milk and brush the sides of the pastry. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
Note: Instead of making your own crust, you may use 1 pre-made pastry (pie) dough.
Based on a recipe by Leiete’s Culinaria.