tomato, corn, and vidalia onion tart

I’ve been thinking about making a tomato tart for some time now, but the fact that I live with a husband and two kids who belong to the Anti-Tomato League has kept me from following through. If I cook with tomatoes, the tomato pieces must be mushed down to unrecognizable red bits or else the children get suspicious that they might still be raw. My husband is just as bad. And I’m certain the kids are tomato-averse only because they are influenced by their beloved father – the man who feeds them jelly beans and lollipops at the drop of a hat.

I have one little cherry tomato plant in my garden. It’s a rather sad tomato plant, really. It stands alone, leaning to one side, surrounded by thriving basil and sage and mint. My harvest is pitiful, but each little sweet cherry tomato I pluck off the vine and pop in my mouth gives me at least thirty seconds of joy. My children look at me in disgust when they see me eating tomatoes right out of the garden. I feel so sad for them, these poor children who don’t appreciate the sweet juiciness of a fresh tomato, and I tell them that. They ignore me.

Over the weekend, as we were planning the July 4th meal with our parents, I knew the tomato-eaters would outnumber the three in my family who don’t eat tomatoes. I seized the opportunity to showcase the tomato in a summer tart. Capitalizing on the other fresh vegetables available to us in the markets right now, I added in fresh summer corn and Vidalia onions, those large sweet onions that come from southern Georgia. I held a small sliver of hope that the corn and onions that served as the base of this tart would draw my husband in for a taste.

No such luck. Completely his loss.

As a side note, I wrote about the beloved tomato in this article, published today in the Florida Times Union. My husband swears that he’ll read it, even if he doesn’t agree with the premise.

Tomato, Corn, and Vidalia Onion Tart

This is a great way to use fresh summer produce for a light summer meal or a savory side dish. I use a 12-inch nonstick tart pan with a removable bottom. This tart doesn't keep well for a long period of time - the tart gets soggy if left at room temperature for more than an hour.

A note about the crust: You can either use refrigerated prepared pie crust dough; or you can use a recipe such as this one, but be sure to omit the sugar.


Pastry dough for single-crust tart
2 Vidalia onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears corn)
6 ounces grated Fontina cheese
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper


1. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry dough into a 14-inch round. Transfer to 12-inch tart pan, easing the dough into the pan carefully. Press into the bottom and sides of pan and trim overhanging edges. Prick the bottom of tart with the tines of a fork. Let tart shell chill in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a large skillet on medium heat, covered and stirring occasionally, cook onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until remaining liquid has evaporated. Salt to taste. Remove from skillet from heat and let cool slightly.

4. In a second skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook minced garlic until it is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Remove tart pan from refrigerator and assemble tart by layering first the cooked onions, followed by the grated Fontina, the corn kernels, and finally the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle top with a pinch or two of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bake for 1 hour or until tart crust is golden. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Inspired by and adapted from this recipe from Gourmet 1995.

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23 Responses to “the inadequate $20 bill and a recipe: oatmeal double-chip cookies”

  1. Sarah — April 12, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    Ouch, that must have been hard. I am a social worker and often come home after listening to so many sad stories to cook. It’s kind of conflicting but also comforting. You’re doing more than most by just being there to listen, so keep it up sister.

  2. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — April 12, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

    What a sad situation. Your patients are fortunate to have such a caring physician.

    The cookies do look so comforting and delicious.

  3. Georgie — April 12, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

    I think you’re a superhero! I know so well, what it’s like to be on both sides, the needing and the giving. I bet he’s grateful and perhaps you gave him some hope and for certain put as smile on his heart for that moment.

  4. Macaroni Mama — April 12, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

    I believe you need to have homemade cookies readily available for indigent patients of yours. I have a microwave you can put in your office. This was a very touching blog. How heart-wrenching that must be for you to know your patients cannot afford their meds. XXXOOO

  5. Gail — April 12, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    I don’t know how you do what you do, but I am so glad it’s you who does it.

  6. SMITH BITES — April 12, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

    You’re a good person MJ – and doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing when you should be doing it. And I know I don’t need to remind you that your patient is where he’s supposed to be – in your care . . . The world needs more MJs

  7. Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 12, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

    I’m not a religious man, but you are an angel darling. I mean that. I’m sure that meant the world to him. It wasn’t trivial at all. He needed those mess and you provided that to him.

  8. Lori @ RecipeGirl — April 13, 2012 @ 12:03 am

    oh man. What a tough job, and what an absolutely lovely human being you are. I’m sure that $20 meant the world to him… I mean, how many people would do that? Feel good about what you did 🙂

  9. Jayne — April 13, 2012 @ 3:48 am

    Gosh MJ, yours is a hard job. I think the way you handled the situation was lovely. Poor man, to be suffering with cancer and losing his home, I feel so distraught for him. Your cookies sound delicious, if anyone is in need of a cookie it must be you.

  10. Kathryn — April 13, 2012 @ 4:18 am

    I’m not sure that I would have the strength to do what you do, you are a pretty amazing person.

  11. Paula — April 13, 2012 @ 8:27 am

    You are a wonderful, caring person and a credit to your chosen profession. That gesture represented so much more than money for medication to your patient.

  12. Jenny — April 13, 2012 @ 9:52 am

    You are a wonder. I worked for an oncologist for eight years. I took their calls on the weekend to help my doctor, I went to their houses to hold their hands, I baked for their families – I did everything I could because I knew my doctor was so busy and had a family. He would have never done what you do – he was a good man – but he wouldn’t struggle with finding a way to help him or even given him $20 – he would have maybe mentioned to me – to see if a social worker could help him. The $20 doesn’t mean anything to this man – the fact that you thought and felt enough for his circumstances to give him the $20 – means the world to him. You renew my faith in humanity. xo

  13. Mary — April 13, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    While $20.00 seems inadequate to you, the compassion you showed your patient gave him a small peaceful pause in a stressful situation. Good on you!

  14. Aggie — April 13, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    What Gail said.

    My heart always hurts for anyone struggling like this.

    MJ, your storytelling is beautiful, even though the situation isn’t.

    And those are my kind of cookies. Comfort on a plate.

  15. jenna — April 13, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

    We are called to love one another and what you are feeling in your heart is that conviction. Sometimes its the smallest acts of kindness that mean the most…

  16. Di — April 13, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, to be so close to human suffering on so many levels. You are a blessing Merry Jennifer.

  17. Kiran @ — April 14, 2012 @ 1:15 am

    You are a blessing to many, that’s for sure. xo

  18. Shaina — April 15, 2012 @ 1:38 am

    Heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing his story.

  19. You did what you could and I am sure it meant more to him than you will ever know! xoxo

  20. Noble Pig - Cathy — April 16, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    The smallest acts of kindness are sometimes the most memorable..that was wonderful.

  21. Jamie — April 17, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    My sister is a doctor in geriatric medicine in Tampa and I hear similar stories and it does break our hearts. How helpless we feel and so wish there was a way we could do more. Maybe a plate of homebaked cookies, as trivial as it seems, on the corner of your desk could at least bring a temporary smile to someone’s face. And that is wonderful.

  22. art and lemons — April 19, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

    Lovely storytelling rich with compassion and truth and even the seemingly smallest of gestures matter!

  23. Jenny @ BAKE — April 20, 2012 @ 6:13 am

    I’m sure you did more than most would have done

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