Seasonal identity crisis

Yes, it’s officially fall, leaves are changing, pumpkin lattes, blah blah blah. But I haven’t given up on you yet tomatoes!

Cherry tomatoesShiny

It usually takes me a week or so to fully embrace fall (by which time the season is half over) and get over my grumpiness that my beautiful sunlight is long gone by 8 p.m., so my cooking lately has been a weird mish-mash of summer freshness and fall coziness.

Cherry tomatoes Everything is better with cheese Best part of summer, hands down

Call it a seasonal identity crisis. Corn and tomatoes–summer! Apples everywhere–fall! Watermelons ripe and bursting–summer! Baking–fall! Fresh, raw everything–summer! It’s 60 degrees–fall! It’s 95–summer! (Ok, getting those last two in the same week was odd even for September in Chicago).

ThinThicker Polenta, goat-cheesed Dolloped

So I’m just embracing the identity crisis with baking and corn and tomatoes and basil and cheese. Everything is better with cheese. This little tart is such a perfect dish that I’m sad I only found it recently, but it will be one of the first things I make next summer when tomatoes and corn come around again. Hopefully you can find one last ear of corn and a few perfect tiny tomatoes for a final summer hurrah.

Summer on a plate

(And for someone who still says she doesn’t really like raw tomatoes, and says she doesn’t understand how people can eat little tomatoes like grapes, I definitely worked through half of these little beauties before I even got around to making this recipe. Can you possibly blame me? God I love summer.)

Cherry tomatoes Cherry tomatoes

Polenta Tarts with Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomatoes

This is inspired by a recipe from The Kitchn. You can make these in individual portions or as one large tart–personally I liked the little ones because it meant I could just prepare one for dinner or lunch. Plus they’re just darn cute!

A note on the corn broth–if you boil, steam, or grill corn and slice it off the cobs, don’t throw the cobs away! Put them in the freezer until you have a bunch (I do this for about every 12 cobs), put cobs in a stock pot, cover with water, and simmer for a few hours until the broth tastes corn-y. It’s a mild broth, but fantastic in something like this when the flavor of corn is on full display.

4 cups chicken or corn broth*
1 cup polenta
2 ounces goat cheese, plus more for garnish
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels sliced off the cob
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish

2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Brush 6 small tart pans (or 1 large tart pan) lightly with olive oil. Set aside.

In a medium pot, bring broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in polenta, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue stirring occasionally until polenta is quite thick, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in goat cheese, corn kernels, and basil. Portion evenly into tart pan(s) and smooth with the back of a wet spoon. Place in the refrigerator and allow to firm up for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove tarts from their shell,  place on a foil-lined baking top with a dollop of goat cheese. In another foil-lined pan, toss tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for polenta for 15 minutes, or until the edges start to get crispy, and bake tomatoes for 10 minutes or until they start to burst.

Remove polenta and tomatoes from the oven. Spread the now-softened goat cheese over the tart. Top with roasted tomatoes and their juices, along with a few leaves of basil. Serve warm.


5 thoughts on “Seasonal identity crisis

  1. Christina, I just love reading these blogs and your pictures are perfect. I already used some new apples (fall) for a wonderful apple pie. I love all the seasons but the crisp weather on a beautiful fall day is heaven.


  2. Christina, I loved this post! I made pasta with fresh ricotta and fresh tomatoes and a tomato ricotta bruschetta over the weekend. As much as I love fall, I have mixed feelings about summer being over. Your tarts are beautiful! Hope to meet you at a future food swap.


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