This Tomato Tarte Tatin Is Your Next Summer Baking Project

If you're burnt-out on sweet baked goods, this tomato tarte tatin is a savory alternative. Like a good quiche, it tastes great at room temperature for lunch or brunch.
Tomato tarte tatin on a plate.
Tomato tarte tatin on a plate. / Institute of Culinary Education

If you can stand the heat from your oven, late summer is a great time of year for baking. The fruits and vegetables currently in season make the perfect pastry accompaniment. While most summer baking recipes lean toward dessert, this savory tomato tarte tatin from the Institute of Culinary Education is better suited for a picnic lunch or brunch. 

As ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor Roger Sitrin explains, a tarte tatin is a classic French dish. “The premise is that you create a caramel, and you place your [fruit] in the pan. So you’re building it in reverse, much like a pineapple upside-down cake.” While it’s traditionally made with apples, this version keeps the sweet topping, but the addition of tomatoes and herbs pushes it into the savory realm.

To make the pastry, start by heating honey and balsamic vinegar in oil over medium heat in an ovenproof skillet. Add halved tomatoes to the honey mixture cut-side down until there’s no room left in the bottom of the pan. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and thyme. 

Next, partially cover the skillet and raise the heat to medium high, allowing the tomatoes to cook for roughly 5 minutes. Replace the lid with a puff pastry round by folding the pastry around the edges of the pan. Prick the top all over with a fork in and bake the whole tart in a 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. 

To prepare the tart for flipping, allow it to cool for 5 minutes and then loosen it from the pan by running a knife around the edges. Place a large plate upside-down on top of the skillet and flip the tarte tatin onto the plate while wearing oven mitts. If your pastry comes out in one piece, release that breath you were holding and give yourself a round of applause.

With campuses in New York City and Los Angeles, the Institute of Culinary Education is one of the world’s largest culinary schools. Career training programs are available in the culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, and hospitality and hotel management. Whether you’re new to the industry or you’re looking to further your education, you can view the full course curricula today on ICE’s website.

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
8 medium-sized fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced in half
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves only
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
  2. Heat the oil in an ovenproof 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add vinegar and honey. Swirl pan to mix everything together.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes in the pan, cut-side down, as close together as possible. Fill in any empty spaces. It’s okay if the tomatoes overlap a bit. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  4. Cover the pan but allow a space for steam to escape and let the tomatoes cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until they begin to caramelize. While the tomatoes are caramelizing, cut the puff pastry to fit the pan like a well-fitting lid.
  5. Place the puff pastry round on top of the tomatoes, folding under any edges, if needed. Use a fork to prick the pastry all over. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the pastry to loosen it from the pan. Invert a large plate over the top of the skillet and, using oven mitts, carefully and quickly flip the tarte tatin onto the plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.