I have a confession. So far, this year has not been one of my favorites….maybe you could tell because I haven’t been writing as much.  It started off on a couple of really hard notes that made the winter end with a snowstorm of emotion.

The spring was consumed with dog training and my days were reigned with the challenges of raising a purebred German Shepherd puppy aka Scout aka Princess Underfoot aka Sweet Baby aka Pretty Girl.  (They should come with a warning label!)  She is adorable but German Shepherds apparently aren’t a breed…they are a lifestyle.

As summer started, I had glimpses sun peeking through my clouds.  I could see some rays of light and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this dog has warmed my soul in a way I had never imagined.

But one thing has not got better….my garden.  It has not been a good year for my veggies.  I deliberately planted less because I knew my time was going to be working with Scout and her social skills.

Apparently Mother Nature was insulted that I didn’t put my garden first because I have had an absolute LOUSY tomato year.  I’ve had some but not the crop I’ve had in the past.  Our weather has been a little off so I’m sure that has more to do with it than thinking the powers that be may have issues with my off-green thumb.

Normally every year I am usually overrun by grape and roma tomatoes that I can freeze and can enough to get me through winter.  This year I barely have enough romas for the week’s meals and a lot of my grapes have not escaped the grasp of a curious puppy mouth.  (She doesn’t eat them…she plucks them off the vine…they squirt in her mouth and then she spits it out and barks at them.)

The funny thing is that my “regular” tomatoes (Rutgers, Brandywine, Amana Oranges) have been spectacular tasting. I’m not getting a ton of them but I do have enough to make some great sandwiches.

My complaint is that I’m not that huge of sandwich eater.  I like my weekly BLT but that is as far as I go.  So yesterday when I brought it 3 huge ripe tomatoes, I wanted to do something fun with them that showcased their great garden-fresh flavor with minimal effort.

I decided to go with a tart….a rustic, not fussy tart.  I had some pie crust in the freezer and thawed it out.  After it was thawed but still cold, I spread it out on my pizza stone that was dusted with some cornmeal.  I mixed goat cheese with garden herbs and spread it on the uncooked crust.  The sliced tomatoes decorated the top and I gently pulled the sides of the dough up just enough to keep the melted cheese in but not enough to cover the tomatoes. (Because they were beautiful and couldn’t hidden.)  I baked it until the crust was brown and the tomatoes were charred a little.  A few more fresh herbs and sliced like a pizza and I just discovered a great alternative to the ol’ mozzarella cheese and tomato on French bread appetizer.  (That is still delicious and a great go to for an easy add on dish for a party.)

That silly tart (which also could be a Scout nickname) meant a lot more to me than just a great dish. It was a good reminder about how we always need to make the best of all situations.  If keep telling myself of the “tartness” of the year has been bad that is how my memory will recall it.

This tart was great. It embodied the word…it was acidic and zesty which aren’t negative words unless you want to see them that way.  I can look back now at the things that weren’t my favorite this year and find the good in each of them.  It might not be the abundance of joy I’ve been spoiled with in the past but it will make me appreciate what I have even more.

Rustic Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart


1 frozen pie crust, thawed and unrolled (I used Pillsbury)

1 lb Tomatoes, sliced

10 ounces Goat cheese

2 Tbsp Basil fresh (reserve a smidge of all the herbs for the garnish, like a teaspoon or two.)

1 Tbsp Oregano  fresh

1 Tbsp Thyme fresh

2 cloves Garlic

2 Tbsp Butter melted

Corn meal

Salt pepper


Oven 400 Degrees

Unroll piecrust and place on a baking sheet or pizza stone dusted with corn meal.

In a food processor mix goat cheese with herbs and a couple of grinds of good salt and pepper.

Spread the goat cheese on the pie crust leaving a couple of inches circumference on the outer circles. (I started with the mound in the middle and worked my way out.)

Spread the tomatoes in a circular fashion over the cheese, slightly overlapping.

Pull the edges up over the tomatoes.  (A good fold up point is where the goat cheese ends)

You don’t want to completely cover the tomatoes.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

The crust should brown.

I broiled it on high for about 1 minute at the end just to char up the crust a bit and to put some color on the tomatoes.

Mix the garlic with the melted butter and brush it on the out crust.

Sprinkle with the reserved fresh herbs and give it another twist of salt and pepper.

Serve warm or at room temperature.