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Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Homemade Ricotta, Basil, and Lemon

Lindsay Forbes
This heirloom tomato tart features homemade ricotta, fresh basil, and zesty lemon. You will be surprised how easy it is to make homemade ricotta!
Prep Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 1 14″ Rectangle Tart



  • 3 cups whole milk (pasteurized not UHT, see notes)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Tart Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water

Tart Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta (the recipe above makes about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • olive oil for caramelizing
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
  • pea shoots or fresh thyme, for garnish


To make homemade ricotta:

  • Whisk the milk, cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occassionally to prevent burning. Countinue whisking until the milk mixture reaches 190 degrees.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and stir in lemon juice (only mixing once or twice). Set aside and rest for 15-20 min. Do not touch it!
  • Prepare for draining: Place 2-3 layers of cheesecloth over a colander and place the colander over a large bowl. Make sure there is about 4 inches of space between the bottom of the colander and the bottom of the bowl. This will ensure the cheese won't continue sitting in the whey.
  • Pour the milk/lemon mixture over the cheesecloth and allow to drain for about 1-2 hours. The longer it drains, the firmer it will get.
  • Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth and set aside. See notes for making ricotta in advance.

To make tart crust:

  • Whisk together the flour, parmesean and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter to combine. The butter should become pea-sized and equally covered with the flour mixture. Add the ice water, a little bit at a time, just until there is enough to hold the dough together and you can form into a ball.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is a little bit longer and wider than your tart pan. Drape the dough over the tart pan and press down tightly (especially around the corners). Trim the edges. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Take the tart pan with the dough out of the freezer. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom in order to ventilate. Cover with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, rice, etc. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment when it comes out of the oven. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make the filling.

To make tart filling:

  • Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onions and stir to evenly coat the onions in oil. Spread the onions out into a thin layer and let cook, stiring occasionally. Reduce heat to low to prevent burning. It should take about 20 minutes for the onions to caramelize. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the caramelized onions. Taste, add salt and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Pour the ricotta filling into the cooled crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Top with sliced tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and thyme leaves. Serve warm or room temperature.


  1. Pasteurized milk is fine to use. Try to avoid UHT (Ultra high temperature) because it changes the protein structure of the milk and could prevent it from separating.  
  2. You can make the ricotta up to about 2-3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. I normally have the ricotta draining while I am making the tart crust. 
Keyword heirloom tomato, ricotta, tomato, tomato tart