In the summer of 2018 I co-hosted a creative retreat to the flowering French Loire Valley. Our home for the week was at Château de la Bourdaisière, a botanical sanctuary nestled between the towns of Tours and Amboise.
Château de la Bourdaisière is a garden-lovers dream. The historic 135-acre biodiverse property is home to a magnificent landscape of more than 700 varieties of tomatoes (creating the national tomato conservatory), 300 kinds of Dahlias (referred to as Dahliacolor), an orchard with nearly 80 varieties of fruit trees (planted by families from the nearby village of Montlouis-sur-Loire), medicinal herbs, decorative wildflowers, and a surrounding botanical forest. In July the grounds begin to blossom, enchanting in full bloom and color August to September.
On the second to last eve, we gathered in the Château de la Bourdaisière dahlia garden for a dreamy midsummer’s dinner. To offset the July heat, the kitchen created a vibrant and refreshing “cold menu” complete with the freshest ingredients from the garden. It was divine. Over the past few years I have recreated various renditions of this dish…it’s an absolute favorite! Feel free to modify it based on whatever is fresh from your garden.
Vegetable + Heirloom Tomato Tart
*Yields one, 12-inch round tart
4-6 Heirloom Tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 Zucchini, thinly sliced
1 Yellow Squash, thinly sliced
1 Package Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed but cold
Pesto, store-bought or homemade
Fresh Parmesan, Gruyere, Mozzarella or Cheese of your preference
Fresh Thyme, leaves picked
Fresh Basil, leaves chopped
*Optional Fresh Edible Flowers
Preheat oven to 400˚ F.
Once thawed, roll the puff pastry out and gently press it into a round baking sheet. Using a fork, poke holes throughout the dough. This helps to keep your crust from forming into one big bubble when you bake it.
Brush the top of the pastry dough with the pesto. Next, layer it with your sliced tomatoes and vegetables. Top with cheese, salt, pepper and herbs, to taste.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. Serve hot or cold, with a side of freshly sliced tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil or pesto.
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