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Tomato crostata

Updated: Thu, 12 August, 2021

Tomato crostata, an open pie that looks like a very posh pizza and tastes unbelievable.

tomato crostata

A pie has many faces

I’m completely in love with the tomato crostata.

It’s dangerous to fall in love with a pie. A pie is a real shape-shifter: the crust starts off closed, like in a classic apple pie or the English staple, steak and ale, with just a vent to let off steam.

Then it morphs into a lattice – with the cherry filling or the Linzer raspberry jam peeking flirtingly through.

Another shape, a pile of pastry cut-outs decoratively arranged over the dish, from hearts for the Valentine pie to stars and trees at Christmas. Crumb or streusel topping, and again all left to imagination, nothing on show.

But if we move in the French or Italian direction, with pies calling themselves galettes or crostatas, the cover is blown and the filling is on show – almost, with edges of pastry modestly shielding it a little. But watch it: it’s only a small, tiny step away from pizza – and the naked truth!

fresh tomato galette

Treacherous pies!

It’s dangerous to be in love with a pie, a galette or a crostata (let alone pizza). You can’t get enough of it, and it’s just crawling up and up onto your waistline.

Delightfully flaky pastry, with or without the sneaky cheese addition, is full of carbs, those floury devils. You take a look at your plate and all you see are virtuous tomatoes, chard or figs – but they are deviously resting on the pastry case, unarguably the best bit.

It’s dangerous to be in love with a pie – but love is blind, and it has extremely well-developed taste buds.

Recipe found in NY Times Cooking – and it was a coup de foudre.

crostata with tomatoes and thyme

It's a little involved, and all worth it

Why do all these complicated things to make the crostata? Could we not just roll out the pastry, slap some tomato slices over it and bake it?

Oh yeah? And end up with a soggy mess underneath watery tomatoes? All the steps in the recipe have their own purpose and sense.

Why salt tomatoes?

Salting tomatoes drains moisture from them. Obviously, if you live in the south of Italy and have tomatoes that are all bright ripe flesh with hardly a seed and no water, slice and enjoy them without the salting palaver.

But the rest of us, with our supermarket tomatoes grown in the Isle of Wight we have to make the best of what we have.


Thyme and garlic flavourings

The thyme syrup is simply divine brushed over the tomatoes. I usually make much more of it and keep it in the fridge to drizzle over all sorts: roasted vegetables, salads and cheese sandwiches.

thyme syrup

The same goes for the garlic oil: make up a small batch and keep it sealed tight. A few drops added to scrambled eggs make them better than truffled.

How to make crostata pastry?

The shortcrust savoury pastry is admittedly the easiest made in a food processor or a standing mixer, but it's perfectly feasible to do it the artisan way: cutting the butter and cheese into the flour with a knife, then kneading lightly.

But it is beautiful and worth making up double the amount, storing half in the fridge for the next tart, pie or flan occasion. And in actual fact this is a combination of such great elements, you might as well just double or triple all the ingredients from the start!

That’s a joke but practically, making pastry is quite an enterprise so whenever I can and have enough ingredients in stock, I make twice or three times as much pastry. I wrap it in cling film in portions and – truth be told – sometimes forget to label it. So it does happen that an intended pizza turns by necessity into a tart.

But whether you make the precise amount, twice as much or a half, try this incredible pie at least once, as a weekend project or for a special dinner. It is magically delicious.

tomato crostata with pastry made from scratch

More magic tomato recipes

This is similar but more classically traditional: pastry and tomatoes, upside down, you guessed it: tarte Tatin. You can make it the quick and easy way, tomato Tatin with ready-made puff pastry. It’s thoroughly decent.

But for a special Tatin, a little more work will be fitting: plum tomato Tatin is a work of art.

Can you make butter from tomatoes? Yes, you can: tomato butter is really a very intense, concentrated condiment to spread on toast, potatoes or pasta.

When your tomatoes are abundant but not quite full of flavour, you can intensify that taste by making confit tomatoes: roasted with olive oil in low oven.

And of course they must be eaten fresh, too. Try them with figs in a salad, with crumbled blue cheese. Or serve with creamed sweetcorn in season – it’s another remarkably good combination.

Tomato crostata

Servings: 4Time: 2 hours plus chilling dough and macerating tomatoes


  • For the pastry:
  • 125g (about 1 cup) plain flour
  • 75g (½ cup) fine cornmeal
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 140g (1 stick plus 2 tbsp.) cold butter, diced
  • 35g (½ cup) grated mature Cheddar or Gruyere
  • 6 tbsp. iced water
  • For the tomato filling:
  • 600g (1½ pound) tomatoes, cored and sliced 5mm thick (or halved if cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from half the sprigs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 80g (1 cup) grated mature Cheddar or Gruyere
  • black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
  • flaky sea salt, like Maldon


1. To make the pastry, pulse all the ingredients except water in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and pulse until the pastry just comes together. Shape it into a ball, wrap it in foil and flatten to a disc. Chill for 2 hours.

making crostata pastry

2. Spread the tomato slices on a tray lined with double layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 2-3 hours.

salting tomatoes

3. Place the honey, vinegar and the whole thyme sprigs in a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl.

4. Wipe and reuse the pan to heat the olive oil; add the garlic cloves smashed with the flat of a large knife and peeled. Cook the garlic gently on low heat until golden and caramelised. Remove it from the oil and chop finely; keep the oil.

5. Roll out the pastry to a round about 30cm in diameter, dusting with flour if it sticks. Place it on a sheet of parchment lining a baking sheet and return to the fridge for 20 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

7. Pat the tomato slices dry with kitchen towels and brush them with the thyme syrup. Remove the pastry from the fridge and mark a 5cm border around the circle.

8. Spread the cheese on the pastry leaving the border clear. Sprinkle the cheese with the chopped garlic, half the stripped thyme leaves and black pepper.

9. Place the tomato slices over the cheese in a round overlapping pattern. Sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves and drizzle with the garlic oil. Top with the sprigs of thyme cooked in the honey syrup.

10. Fold the edge of the pastry over around the tomatoes forming a 3cm border. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

how to shape a crostata

11. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the tomato slices are wilted and bubbling with juice. Remove from the oven and let the crostata stand for at least 20 minutes – the juices will get absorbed but the pastry underneath will still be crisp.

baking tomato crostata

12. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Originally published: Fri, 6 October, 2017

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
I'm glad you like it as much as I do!
5 years ago
Annalee Dunn
This is to die for!! My entire family loves this crostata. My granddaughter is 3 and asks for grandma’s tomato pie.
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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