Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin


I am so totally the opposite of Martha, I am like her antonym: I should have a magazine titled Julie Van Rosendaal Just Barely Subsisting. Or Keeping it Together the Best She Can. Or Julie Van Rosendaal: She Can’t Even Find the Vacuum Cleaner’s On Switch. (This one is for real: Mike bought a vacuum about a year ago – and last week W asked if he could vacuum. I thought I hit the jackpot – clean and play all in one? Well OK. But then the phone rang and I had no idea how to turn the vacuum cleaner off, because I had never used it before. And Mike wasn’t home. I had to ask W how to do it. In my defense, we have all hardwood floors… But still – we also have a large hairy dog. Even worse: about a month ago as I was chatting on the phone I noticed the clumps of dust up on the trim resembled cauliflower florets in size, and thought – actually thought – hey, that poufy thing on a stick I bought at the dollar store would probably reach up there perfectly! Yeah – the duster?)

So yes, I am severely cleaning impaired. I’m sorry if I’ve tarnished any positive images any of you may have had of me.

In my mind, because I still don’t know myself very well yet, I envisioned this idyllic, perfectly relaxing weekend in which I would sleep in, then go toodle around garage sales and farmers’ markets on Saturday with the boys and a coffee, then come home and spend maybe an hour in the kitchen assembling a perfectly simple dinner for some friends to come by and share under the lilac trees later, after my nap. Sunday I’d wake up and make strawberry-rhubarb blintzes for W to serve Mike in bed before we headed off to set up for Ramsay Rocks (our community festival of sorts we had helped organize and I was emceeing). As you can imagine, it didn’t quite go down that way.

Saturday was fine until I decided to do a sort of freezer-cleaning menu: marinated chicken thighs and shrimp, brown and wild rice salad, roasted chick peas with garlic and chard, grilled veg and a roasted tomato tarte tatin (typically done with apples, you saute them with butter and sugar in a heavy skillet, top with puff pastry and bake it, then invert it onto a plate), which I had attempted about a month ago with great success. When I went outside to grab some basil and chives, the birds had made a mess of the deck with birdseed shells, which I tried to brush off the steps with my bare foot. An hour before everyone arrived I was not cooking, nor cleaning, nor even napping; I was spending 45 minutes digging a giant sliver out of the most inaccessible side of my toe with a needle and tweezers. W was not sleeping. I ran downstairs with my bleeding toe and pulled the cast-iron skillet (I used the large one) out of the oven where it had been for over an hour, roasting tomatoes at 450°F, and wrapped the handle in a tea towel so I wouldn’t absentmindedly grab and move it. The towel fell off. I grabbed and moved it, branding myself squarely on the palm. I opened the brie I had bought at the market (the plan was to plank it) and it was covered with poisonous-looking florescent orange spots. I realized that I hadn’t actually sliced and baked the Raincoast Crisps I had made (you bake them as loaves first, which were still in the freezer) and everyone was supposed to arrive 10 minutes ago. I dropped peppered Boursin in spoonfuls over the tomatoes and when I unwrapped the thawed puff pastry to set overtop, it gummed together like floury paste I had to scrape off the waxed paper in a large, wet wad. I yelled at Mike to go order Inglewood pizza for the 6 kids who were about to show up hungry with their parents. Since the point of burning myself I was holding a frozen bag of chipotle chiles en adobo (they don’t freeze solid and conform to your hand – better than peas for burns and such) in my left hand, and only using my right. The baggie thawed and split and oozed red-orange chile sauce all over me. Julie Van Rosendaal: this is Your Life.

The gin & tonics helped. Mike got pizza, and another brie. (I’ll tell you all about planking it another time.) The chicken and shrimp turned out well. I spent the night holding baggies of various foods from the freezer. The tarte Tatin was not pretty (fortunately I took some photos last time, when I tested it for a City Palate article), but I’m always amazed by puff pastry’s ability to bake up all pretty even when it looks like hell as it goes into the oven.

I’ll spare you the details of fathers’ day – suffice to say we were in the backyard until almost 1am, and Mike was lucky to get a Tim Horton’s coffee and raisin bran muffin practically thrust at him with instructions to put on your pants, we have to go, like right now, and then he spent the next several hours moving tables, setting up tents and figuring out how to power two jumpy castles that kept spontaneously deflating. Dinner, after the event and the tear-down, was at my parents’ house – a nice mango curry Mom made for my Dad’s birthday that I didn’t photograph, having not considered bringing my camera along when I left the house at 8:30 am.

Roma tomatoes work well for this upscale pizza-ish tart, being meaty and not as juicy as beefsteak tomatoes, but you could use either. Roast them, then drop on spoonfuls of soft goat cheese or Boursin. I’m sure there a thousand other things you could do with it, as with roasted tomatoes: add garlic, or herbs, or caramelized onions. I may have to try all of them, just for research purposes.

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin


June 21, 2009

This savoury take on a classic apple tarte tatin (in which the apples are caramelized, then topped with pastry and inverted) is reminiscent of pizza, only more refined. Slivered, it makes a great appetizer (try tearing some fresh arugula overtop), or serve wedges with a side of peppery greens for lunch.

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


8-10 Roma or plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, or 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes

olive or canola oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 10 oz. pkg. soft goat cheese or Boursin, plain, peppered or herbed

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed


1In a large cast iron or ovenproof skillet, arrange the tomatoes cut-side up and drizzle with oil; toss with your hands to coat them well, rearrange them in a single layer (don’t worry about them being closely packed; they will shrink quite a bit as they cook), and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for an hour at 400°F (alternatively, you could slow roast them for 4 hours at 250°F).

2If you slow roasted your tomatoes, turn the oven up to 400°F. If your puff pastry is in a block, roll it out to approximately the same size as the pan you’re using. Crumble the goat cheese over the roasted tomatoes and top it with the puff pastry, crimping the edges underneath with your fingers (sloppy = rustic) or trimming the corners off to make a circle with a paring knife.

3Bake for 20 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden. Let sit for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving dish; retrieve any goat cheese that has stuck to the bottom of the pan and put it back onto the tart. Cut into wedges to serve.


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40 comments on “Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin

  1. kelly
    June 22, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Julie, you make me laugh, especially when I know I am really laughing at myself. It is so nice to know that we aren’t all Martha’s, and it’s okay. The Tomato Tarte looks okay to me; I might try it with some olives trhown in too. 🙂

  2. Lisa
    June 22, 2009 at 5:42 am

    No kids here but I can relate… did the same thing with a hot skillet full of tequila-lime shrimp with saffron rice last weekend, after taking it out of the oven and silently reminding myself not to touch the handle because it was hot. Hope your hand feels better!

  3. Avery
    June 22, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Oy vey. We didn’t even manage to get to Ramsay Rocks (it coincided with Ruby’s nap); hope you managed to have fun at some point!

  4. JulieVR
    June 22, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Wow, she had a 5 hour nap? 🙂

  5. Kate
    June 22, 2009 at 6:08 am

    On those days when everything I do turns to ashes I have all I can do to remember that “this is not the hill I want to die on”!!!!
    If I only had a hammock tucked away in a closet I could protect myself from ME!

  6. Aimee
    June 22, 2009 at 6:12 am

    By now you must be turning down offers for a reality show, no?

    I’m glad most things turned out–the tart is gorgeous!

  7. Elaine
    June 22, 2009 at 6:43 am

    There is a really stellar This American Life episode called “Fiasco,” which spends a good deal of time describing those sorts of afternoons. It’s happened to all of us: our plans go spectacularly awry and it’s a toss-up between crying in the corner or embracing the fact that, in the retelling, you can use the phrase “hilarity ensued.”

  8. Hillary
    June 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

    You resemble Martha more than you think with this recipe! Those roasted tomatoes are droolworthy!

  9. marce
    June 22, 2009 at 7:20 am


    Loved your stream-of-conscious tale of the weekend. I thought I might add one idea for roasting tomatoes. Simple. It’s one of those pre-planning things that makes the day go easier, but it may be a bit too martha-like for some. I learned this from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros: THE NIGHT BEFORE, Preheat the oven to 450. Prepare the tomatoes for roasting by slicing in half, drizzling with oil and sprinkling with sea salt. Put the tomatoes in the oven. TURN THE OVEN OFF. In the morning, the tomatoes are perfectly roasted. I’ve done this more than a dozen times. Never a failure. I’m going to create your tart this week. Thanks, again, for the inspiration.

  10. JulieVR
    June 22, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Ooh – Marce, I am so trying that!

    And Elaine – good tagline! “Hilarity ensued”!

  11. Erica B.
    June 22, 2009 at 7:57 am

    lol! I can so relate! I own an apron that says martha doesn’t live here I’ve spent the weekend eating leftovers, gardening and decluttering in order to sell the house…we’re moving to Red Deer. I wish I had Martha’s team of people to pretty things up 🙂

  12. Nancy
    June 22, 2009 at 9:42 am

    That was so hilarious!!! Love it all. Reminded me of that fmylife.com website, so funny.
    Speaking of not vacuuming, last weekend we were at my sister’s cottage for gir’s weekend and the 6 moms there spent the whole of Sun. a.m. ignoring the giant dust bunny on the floor, until my sister finally picked it up – and SCREAMED! Then said, “oh, it’s just a rubber frog”, well, it wasn’t, it was a dust saturated little guy who had either hibernated all winter or had been living in her son’s room for a week and had dragged his entire dust bunny house toward the water to get out of there! Oh we screamed, what fun. Finally the “nature girl” who was there took it down to the water, we choose to believe it lived. 🙂 Love the tart, will make it soon!

  13. sue.d
    June 22, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Chilis and burns show up in old wives tales NOWHERE. Ouch!

    M had his fathers’ day (really it was more like half an hour) 2 weeks ago, due to some absentminded assumptions made by me…I’m such a tool!

    Hey, just saw some garlic scapes in the market today…any previous experience with them?

  14. sam
    June 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I feel your pain, Julie. I broke a bone in my hand 4 weeks ago (2 more ’till the pins are out) and it is hard only having one hand! I can’t even cut my meat – much to my husband’s amusement. I think he thinks this might keeo me from trying to level 88lb concrete sidewalk blocks by myself. And he might be right! Also, I heard you on the homestretch doing traffic and you NEED to pitch the idea of a cooking call in, like they do with Linden for the gardening. Really… I have many questions all lined up 🙂

  15. SheilaV
    June 22, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Oh Julie! I cringed when I read about your cast-iron-pan-branding. ooweee!! Nothing hurts like a burn!!
    ;-( [polysporin burn ointment does help a wee bit]
    Hope it’s feeling better!!

  16. Kelsey
    June 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    This looks delicious! Gives me more ideas for my tomatoes this summer…

  17. Vivian
    June 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    OMG, Julie! Slow down luv! We don’t want you to burn out (literally) in the pursuit of culinary greatness. As a passing thought, I wondered what a “Mike Blog” might be like. He certainly is a strong back-up for you and W. Thank you for allowing us to live in your shoes, so to speak. I am so inspired to have luscious San Marzano tomatoes out of the garden this year and to finally know what to do with them!

  18. Natalie (Michigan)
    June 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    yeah! you’re human… I was beginning to wonder 🙂

  19. Nancy G
    June 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Tarte looks really lovely. Made your pulled pork with the bottle of guiness and the pulled pork soup the next day –it was really, really good. Made your Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard tonight –amazing!!! I don’t think I have tried any recipe of yours that has not been great and I thank-you very much for all the inspiration and good food 🙂

  20. Debi
    June 22, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Can’t wait for the summer tomatoes…won’t be long now. Great way to put them to use. Some fresh herbs would be great too!

  21. Pat from Ontario
    June 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I slowed roasted some roma tomatoes, and they were delicious.Next, I’m going to make the Rhubarb Chutney. Instead of sugar, can I use Splenda?

    Last week I had some of Manon’s Maple Syrup on waffles. I used all of my 35 extra points for WW at that meal, but it was worth it!!!

  22. JulieVR
    June 22, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I wouldn’t use Splenda.. unless you are used to that aftertaste!

  23. Erica
    June 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Yum. Thanks – I’m going to try this very soon – I love goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes – this reminds me of that combination.

  24. Pat from Ontario
    June 23, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Geez…I must have been tired last night when I wrote my comment. I reread it many times before I submitted it, and I never noticed that I said, I “slowed” roasted the tomatoes.

  25. Bellini Valli
    June 23, 2009 at 5:16 am

    I am hopelessly inept at anything mechanical and yet I can put toghether entire cabinets with doors,drawers, etc..go figure. What we can do is make amazing dishes like this one:D

  26. Kathy
    June 23, 2009 at 6:15 am

    This looks fab Julie! Puff pastry however intimidates me a wee bit as I’ve never worked with it. Could I substitute pizza dough instead?

  27. rea
    June 23, 2009 at 7:37 am

    good to know i’m not the only one who is frightened of the contradictory nature of puff pastry. i’ve used it twice–the first time it was a goopy mess and the second time it was fine. whaaat?

  28. JulieVR
    June 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

    You could totally do pizza dough, or regular pastry, instead. The great thing about puff pastry is that even when it does come out all goopy, it generally bakes up beautifully anyway!

  29. Mar Hein
    June 23, 2009 at 10:54 am

    i think :)the problem :)is: you are trying to do too much with having a toddler and a big dog. i admire you for all you do with a husband, a toddler and a dog. i know i could not keep up with you and still have a smile on my face. glad no one asks me to do all that you do in a day/week/month/year!!keep on keeping on!

  30. Mar Hein
    June 23, 2009 at 10:57 am

    the Swiffer Vac ‘n Dust is great for hardwood floors and makes clean-ups quick and easy. phone them and ask for a coupon to try it. i have had it so long (over 2.5 years) that the battery went dead-did not re-charge anymore. so i went to Battery World and got one from them and it works now even better than it did before. even W would like to use that and it is easy to start and shut off. 🙂

  31. Cathy
    June 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Chaos, burning food, missed schedules, delayed meals — sounds like a typical Saturday at my house! Glad somebody else stumbles around like a crazy woman, too. Thanks so much for sharing — and I’m trying this recipe immediately.

  32. Noelle
    June 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I have been reading your site and cookbooks for some time and the thing I love is… you cook and function in the kitchen (and life) like me….a real person. Your entry today clinched it for me and I had to respond.
    I knew you had become a staple in our house when I was fishing around for something to cook with my leftovers and my 9 year old said “what does Julie say.
    Thanks and keeping on telling life like it really is.

  33. bluejeangourmet
    June 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    holy cow this looks good! I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t fly as an appetizer in my house, though, because I would eat half of it by myself.

    I love your honesty–it’s so nice for the rest of us out here to see our crazy lives mirrored in that of someone we really admire.

  34. Kevin
    June 27, 2009 at 11:00 am

    That looks so good! I really like the goat cheese in it!

  35. sara
    January 14, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I made this with cherry tomatoes and it was SO good! Yum. 🙂 Thanks for an easy and delicious recipe! 🙂

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