Spring has sprung (finally), and believe it or not, summer is right around the corner! I’ll fully admit that this time of year, every year, I get a case of the “Ohmigosh, I have to be in a swim suit, in public, in just a few short weeks.” heebie jeebies. Thankfully, as the weather warms up, I feel like eating lighter anyway. Hopefully, shedding the heavier, comfort food that winter brings will help me shed a few pounds as well.
That said, nobody wants to starve.
Thankfully, recipes like this exist. When you’re craving creamy, cheesy, and buttery, but are dreaming of the beach, this is a perfect compromise. The original recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. Each slice of the tart racks up about 270 calories. Pair the tart with a nice salad, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, light dinner.
When I made this for dinner last night, the first thing I did was prepare the crust. Whoever thought of this may be a bit of a convenience food genius. I’ve never seen anything like this before, but it was fun to try, and ended up working out perfectly.
To make the crust, I popped open a can of refrigerated breadsticks. I separated the breadsticks and then rolled the first one into a coil. I pressed the second breadstick onto the end of the first, and continued to coil. I repeated this until all of the breadsticks were attached and I had, what looked like a giant cinnamon roll (minus the cinnamon) on my hands.
After I’d rolled it up, I left the dough to sit at room temperature for about fifteen minutes. During this time, I sliced up four Roma (plum) tomatoes, sprinkled them with a little bit of salt to help pull away some of the moisture, and let them hang out on some paper towels.
Once the dough had warmed up a bit, I sprinkled it with a little bit of flour, and used my rolling pin to roll it out into a 12-inch circle. I then moved the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and pressed it into the bottom and up the sides.
I got the dough in place, covered it with foil, and weighed it down with some dried beans before I popped it into the oven. The beans just help the dough to stay on the flatter side, instead of puffing up like a bunch of breadsticks would. If you have pie weights, go ahead and use those. I just keep a bag of dried beans on hand to use instead, and I reuse them over and over again. (If you do this, just make sure you label your used beans so you don’t try to cook with them!)
I pulled the crust from the oven and then got to work on my filling.
Into my food processor went some part-skim ricotta cheese, some low-fat mozzarella cheese, a bit of Parmesan, a cup of fresh basil leaves, some pepper, and two egg whites.
I pureed the cheese mixture until it was nice and smooth, and a beautiful Spring shade of green. Then, I spread the cheese mixture onto my crust, leaving just a bit at the edges. I topped the cheese with the drained tomato slices, brushed the whole thing with a bit of olive oil, and then it was ready to pop back into the oven.
The tart baked for forty minutes, and at that point, the tomatoes had roasted up nicely and the cheese mixture had set up perfectly. I removed it from the oven and let it cool for about ten minutes, while I got a fruit salad together and rounded up my family.
The tart was delicious! It’s light, but creamy, and just tastes like fresh-Spring flavor. My entire family enjoyed it! (Even the youngest one, who usually turns her nose up at anything slightly green in hue.)
I think we found a pre-scary-swimsuit-season winner.
Adapted from Cooking Light
- 1 (11 oz.) can refrigerated soft breadstick dough
- cooking spray
- 4 plum tomatoes
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- ¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ⅔ cup part-skim or fat-free ricotta cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425*F.
- Unroll the dough, and separate the breadsticks into strips. Working on a flat surface, coil 1 breadstick around itself in a spiral pattern. Attach a second strip to the end of the first, pressing to seal, and continue to coil. Continue with each breadstick until all of the strips are coiled. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch thick slices. Salt one side of the tomato slices and place the slices, salt side down, on a few layers of paper towels. Place more paper towels on top of the tomato slices and allow to drain while you make the rest of the tart.
- Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour, and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Press the circle into the bottom, and up the sides, of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom that has been coated with nonstick spray.
- Cover the dough with foil and arrange pie weights or dried beans on the foil. Bake at 425* for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F.
- Place the basil, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, pepper, and egg whites in the bowl of a food processor. Puree the mixture until it's nice and smooth. Spread the cheese mixture over the top of the crust. Top the cheese mixture with the sliced tomatoes. Brush the entire tart with the olive oil.
- Bake at 350* for 40 minutes, or until the cheese mixture is set and the tomatoes look soft and roasted. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Can be served at room temperature or cold, as well.