Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic Crostata

Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic Crostata

Even though the weather here in LA is still plenty hot, this year’s home gardening tomato season is drawing to a close. Each year I learn a bit more about getting maximum yield from the plantable urban garden space we have. I had an abundance of cherry tomatoes (both gold and red) this year, so making an extra-special season finale dish was in the cards. I’ve always loved the rustic simplicity of a dessert crostata, so I thought that making a savory one (just without sugar) could be interesting. Adding Fontina cheese and plenty of roasted garlic adds a richness to the bright acidic taste of the tomatoes.

last of the summer tomatoes
Last of the summer tomato harvest

For tomatoes and other summer-loving plants, I’ve taken over parts of our driveway to carve out space for pots and home built rolling planters, which have worked pretty well this year. I think the heat reflecting up from the hot concrete driveway helps the heat-loving tomatoes. This area is where I got the absolute best yield of tomatoes this season, including the cherry tomatoes for this recipe!

I’ve learned to stop trying to get tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to grow well in even slightly shady conditions. Because trees in our yard have grown up over the years, spaces that worked 5 years ago just aren’t getting enough sun anymore. For this coming autumn, in those less-than-full-sun spots, I’ve already bought seeds for fava beans, short carrots, Japanese turnips, Italian red scallions and cut & come again lettuces. Renee’s Garden here in California has been incredibly helpful in picking out items that I hope will thrive. I’m just waiting for some cooler weather.

rolling planter #2
Rolling planter #2 – Still working on a name for it!

So go find those last pints of super sweet cherry tomatoes and cook yourself a crostata! It’s a delicious and attractive appetizer to share among friends or to pair with a salad as a light main course. The dough for the crust is the same recipe as for a sweet dessert crostata minus the sugar.

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Burst Cherry Tomato and Roasted Garlic Crostata

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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (½ cup or ¼ lb.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Ice water

Roasted Garlic

  • 2 heads garlic, large with tightly packed cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. mixed-color cherry or other small tomatoes –  cut any  larger tomatoes in half
  • 810 sprigs thyme, divided
  • 10 basil leaves
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz. grated Fontina cheese


For the Crust:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse once. Remove the cubed butter from the refrigerator just before using and add to the flour using a fork to coat the butter with the flour. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is the size of small peas (about 15 times). Then while the food processor is running, very slowly pour the ice water through the spout until the dough forms a ball.
  2. Remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in wax paper. Flatten with the palm of your hand and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until ready for use.

For the Roasted Garlic:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice off the tops of the garlic bulbs exposing each clove of garlic. 
  3. Place the 2 garlic bulbs on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle a small amount of oil olive on each bulb and allow it to seep in between the cloves. Sprinkle each bulb with a little salt.
  4. Tightly wrap the foil up around the garlic and seal by pinching the foil. Place on a sheet pan or pie tin in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. 
  5. Allow the garlic to cool in the foil and use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Filling:

  1. Place a cast iron or other heavy-bottom frying pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 tbsp of extra-virgin oil to the pan and allow it to heat.
  2. Toss the tomatoes, basil, a pinch of salt and 1/2 the thyme into the pan and toss to coat everything with the hot oil. Gently cook for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Cook until the tomatoes have just begun to burst and release their liquid.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar, toss again and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the cooked thyme sprigs and discard.

For the Crostata:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450℉.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a wooden board. Dust with a little flour on both sides of the dough and on the wooden board.
  3. Using a rolling pin and moving quickly, roll out the dough into roughly a circular shape about 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Transfer the prepared dough to the parchment-lined sheet pan.
  5. Sprinkle the grated Fontina cheese in the center of the prepared dough creating an even circle about 12 inches in diameter.
  6. Unwrap the roasted garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves out with your hands. Evenly distribute the garlic over the cheese.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the burst tomatoes to the crostata leaving behind the liquid that’s accumulated.
  8. Fold up the edges of the crostata around the contents overlapping the dough as you go. Tear off all but 1-inch of the dough exposing the beautiful tomatoes. Drizzle just a little of accumulated juices over the tart to any spots that look a little dry. Treat yourself to the rest with a spoon!
  9. Arrange the remaining thyme sprigs on top of the crostata.
  10. Place in the oven and cook for 20-minutes until golden brown. Check after 10-minutes. If the crust is starting to burn, place a loose piece of aluminum foil over the crust for the remainder of the cook time.
  11. Remove, let cool and serve at room temperature.


Special equipment:

  • Wooden board and rolling pin
  • Sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Join the Conversation

  1. This is delicious! Very easy! I used pre-made dough…
    Great for a dinner party with a salad!

    1. Wonderful!! Thanks for the feedback! If you post it, tag us at @ouritaliantable and #ouritaliantable! Thanks. Joe

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