tart it up: simple tomato phyllo tart

A few months ago I bought some phyllo dough with the intention of creating something fantastic out of it. It languished in my freezer for quite a while before a near-empty fridge made the decision for me that it was time to play with that phyllo pastry. So with a bit of store bought pesto, a couple of beautiful looking tomatoes and more olive oil than I cared to admit, I turned that phyllo into a pretty stunning tomato tart.

Phyllo has a bad rap, but I’m here to dispel the myth. It’s not hard to work with it. Really. Repeat it 5 times. Trust me. All you need to have a successful go is a damp tea towel and a bowl of olive oilโ€“plus a pastry brush. Phyllo is thin and brittle and tears like a mofo but don’t sweat it if your sheet of phyllo rips in two. No one is going to notice once it bakes up. It’s very forgiving that way. However, phyllo does dry out quickly which is the reason for the damp towel, so cover up what sheets you aren’t currently slathering olive oil onto and you’ll do just fine.

As for my tomato tart? Totally impressive in taste and appearance. Cornelius wondered why I called it a tart when he figured it should be called a pizza. Whatever, I’m being fancy so tart trumps pizza. Serve this for guests and they’ll think you pulled out all the stops, so just bow and accept your accolades. I just made it on a Sunday night when it was just the two of us watching a movie (Zodiac, btw, which was sooooo beautiful in terms of lighting and camera work and made me swoon, as did my eternal crush, Mark Ruffalo).

One more thing totally food unrelated, next week, I’ll be taking a little birthday road trip to the wilds of central and north eastern Oregon. We’ll be around Bend, the John Day area and the painted hills for some camping and hiking. If anyone has any good food recommendations or cute towns or great thrift shops we must stop at, fill me in! We’ll also head to my favorite city, Portland, for a couple days as well. Send me your recommendations please!!

28 comments to “tart it up: simple tomato phyllo tart”

  1. 1
    Bijoux   May 2, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I see you discovered the “Greek” in you…LOL LOL…
    “more olive oil than I cared to admit”…You know I always say to my husband when he is cooking that he should not fear olive oil…so give ‘er more olive oil ๐Ÿ˜€

    I could not have said it better myself…phyllo is very easy to work with.

    On another note, I am planning a brunch tomorrow and I will be using your French toast recipe (I’ll be using challah bread) and your orange yoghurt recipe and some boozy fruit salad – your recipe!

  2. 2
    VeggieGirl   May 2, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Haha, I’m STILL intimidated by working with phyllo dough – hopefully I’ll work up the courage to cook.bake with it, soon!

    That tart looks DIVINE!!! Tarts do trump pizzas :0)

  3. 3
    april   May 2, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Hi! I’m a reader/lurker living in Bend..love your recipes!

    Unfortunately our thrift stores are pretty cruddy..goodwill costs an arm and a leg, though there’s a St Vincent’s that has yielded some good finds..

    McKay Cottage is a great breakfast spot..Thump has the best coffee downtown..Silver Moon Brewery is a fun place with good beer and frequent free live music.

    I’ll throw in my pitch for the Bend Public Library if you need to hide out during a rainy day (I’m a librarian there).

    Enjoy your travels!

  4. 4
    Kali   May 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I used to be scared of phyllo dough too, but you’ve got it right: a damp towel is a major key part in keeping it from overwhelming you. (I also believe in having everything prepped before you do anything with it so as to cut down on potential dryness.) I made an awesome homemade spanakopita one time with it–my guilt was butter instead of olive oil–and I still have some phyllo in the freezer. I think this tart would be the perfect way to use the rest of it up! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 5
    michael edelman   May 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Some other things that would work well in this:

    Potatoes, sliced thinly;


    Cabbage, cut in 2″ pieces

  6. 6
    bellcurves   May 2, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    this looks so amazing, and i’d really like to try it! for the most part, phyllo dough doesn’t intimidate me, b/c every christmas, we do a greek croustade (spinach-feta pie), similar to spanikopita. i love how you write that no one will really notice if a sheet of dough tears. that is so true! they’re just impressed that you used phyllo, and/or don’t care, b/c it TASTES and looks great. i have yet to try making baklava, though. now that could get tricky. anyway…awesome tart–it looks worthy of special occasions, and i might try this for my mom on mother’s day.

  7. 7
    Tricia   May 3, 2008 at 12:33 am

    i’m so jealous when someone gets to make tomato-y things. my husband hates them. this looks so good! great job!

  8. 8
    Laura   May 2, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    The Sparrow Bakery has an awesome mocha (Stumptown Coffee!) and a delicious pastry called the Ocean Roll. Mmmm…

  9. 9
    Rachael M.   May 3, 2008 at 9:35 am


  10. 10
    Laura   May 3, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Gorgeous looking tart!

  11. 11
    cookinpanda   May 3, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Great idea for using phyllo. I bought my first box of dough about two weeks ago and haven’t touched it. This is a great way to try it out before I move onto more complicated uses of it. Thanks!

  12. 12
    nancy   May 3, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    If you’re looking for a good but inexpensive meal in Portland, try Justa Pasta if you haven’t before: http://www.justapasta.com/ . Two great fresh pasta entrees, two glasses of wine and a great salad for about $40. The Doug Fir is fun for bar food. They have a ridiculously cheap happy hour menu where everything is $2.50 and have pretty good burgers. http://www.dougfirlounge.com/ Good small concert venue too.

  13. 13
    Jennie   May 3, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Sometimes I swear there is some culinarily psychic connection between us. It is quite possible that my pyllo has been in the freezer for almost a year now. Thanks for giving me a great way of using it. I’ll probably never get around to making baclava anyway!

  14. 14
    tommy   May 4, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Nice. Sort of a phyllo margherita sort of thing. I agree with you that phyllo isn’t really as intimidating as people think. But it’s true, you can’t even look at the stuff without a damp towel in hand. I have to say, though, I prefer melted butter to olive oil…

    As for Portland recommendations, The Screen Door at Burnside & 24th is a good bet for moderately priced southern food, and if you want to go all out, head to Le Pigeon at Burnside & 8th or Sel Gris on Hawthorne between 19th & 20th. All on the east side. Pata Negra, Toro Bravo and Lolo are all pretty good for spanish food. Don’t eat at the Doug Fir, though. Cool music venue, and a nice bar if you’re in the mood for swanky, high concept boozin’, but I’ve always been disappointed in the food there.

  15. 15
    tommy   May 4, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Oh, wait, I gotta couple more. You can get great pizza at Dove Vivi on Glisan & 28th, check out Biwa for good japanese a couple blocks south of Le Pigeon/Doug Fir in the old La Luna building, and make sure to have breakfast at Pine State Biscuits (artisanal chocolate milk!) on Belmont between 36th & 37th. Again, all on the east side. And I second Nancy’s recommendation of Justa Pasta. You might also want to check out the Cheap Eats guide on Willamette Week’s website. Okay, I’ll shut up now. Enjoy your stay in PDX!

  16. 16
    hag   May 3, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    looks really good! I love phyllo it makes such a nice ‘crust’. I have never used olive oil with it though, always butter. I will have to try the olive oil. I bet this would also work well with frozen puff pastry.

  17. 17
    kickpleat   May 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    so true, kali, having everything prepped is the way to go.

    bijoux, hope your brunch went well!

    veggiegirl, it’s so easy to work with and you can definitely find vegan phyllo dough!

    thanks for unlurking, april! thanks for the tips for bend…and who knows, we’ll probably show up at the library for a little emailing!

    michael, definitely! good suggestions, especially the cabbage! yum.

    bellcurves, baklava would be great to try…i’m afraid of that too!

    laura, thanks for the bakery tip! i’ll definitely check it out.

    tricia, i used to hate tomatoes too…maybe your husband will try them if you just smother them with cheese and pesto!

    indeed, rachael ๐Ÿ™‚

    thanks laura!

    haha, yes, jennie, use your phyllo asap!!

    give it a go, cookinpanda!

    nancy, thanks for the portland tips. i’ve been to the doug fir for drinks and happy hour before.

    hag, this was my first time using olive oil rather than butter. it was good! it helps that i’m using amazing olive oil ๐Ÿ™‚

    wow, love all your suggestions tommy! we’re more budg than swank so we’ll definitely check out that biscuit place! we love portland breakfasts!!

    thanks s! it’s as tasty as it looks ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. 18
    Here, There, Elsewhere... and more   May 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Hi, love your blog – thanks for sharing…I’m definately planning on trying some of these recipes out asap..:)

  19. 19
    Steph   May 4, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    This looks beautiful! Wow.

  20. 20
    Laurie Constantino   May 5, 2008 at 1:39 am

    You are so right – phyllo is very very easy to work with and oh so forgiving. Terrific tart – wish I had some now!

  21. 21
    Patricia Scarpin   May 5, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Wow, I have a huge crush on Mark Ruffalo, too – isn’t he fabulous? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I love the looks of this tart!

  22. 22
    GirtyMurl   May 5, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I made this tonight for dinner using potatoes, onions, garlic and mozzarella. It was beautiful and golden and bubbly and delicious until I realized my pastry brush had been coming apart while I was putting the crust together. The whole way through there were little nylon hairs in it. It was still really good it just took some careful eating.

    Thanks for such a delicious idea. I’m gonna make it again this week but Ill be picking up a better brush first!

  23. 23
    kickpleat   May 16, 2008 at 11:54 am

    aww, thanks here there!

    laura, it is truly forgiving and tasty!

    yay, patricia, i love that there are more mark ruffalo fans out there!

    tricia, glad you were able to make this but too bad about your brush! i use a silicone one and i love it.

  24. 24
    Mari   May 20, 2008 at 5:20 am

    From one Mark Ruffalo fan to another, your tart is hot! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. 25
    kickpleat   May 22, 2008 at 7:41 am

    thanks mevrouw!

    agnes, i think it would be awesome with artichokes or zucchini! give it a try!

  26. 26
    agnes   May 22, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Oh how I wish my food-nemisis (non vegetable eating vegetarian stepson) hadn’t decided that tomatoes are one of the four things he’s allowed to refuse… Do you think it would work with something like artichoke hearts or zuccini instead?

    really like your stuff by the way and will def come back to visit!

  27. 27
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  28. 28
    Lyndsay   March 28, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    So I am kinda late to this discussion but WOW. Most of my friends believe I eat popcorn for dinner as a regular practice. I brought this to a potluck and wow’ed folks. It is delicious. I love your recipes They don’t always look as good as your photos when I make them but always taste wonderful.

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