Tomato Tart Recipe - La tarte à la tomate

St Remy (c) Kristin Espinasse
       A Scottish terrier and shop terrace taken in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.     

cocher (ko-shay) verb

  : to check off, to tick (off); to score

cocher la bonne réponse = to check the correct answer

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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: The following story was written in the fall of 2007.)

The kids and I are sitting at the kitchen table, polishing off a tomato tarte. My son insists that this is one of his favorites.

"Tu devrais la faire plus souvent, maman," Max suggests. His sister seconds that, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and managing to nod at the same time.
"Thanks, Jackie. Use your napkin!" I remind my daughter.

In my brain, I travel over to the "meals" department, where I uncheck the "pot-au-feu" box, and je coche the square that reads "tarte à la tomate". (The first was fade, the second, flavorful.) I'll get the menus right one day. In the meantime, there's nothing like encouragement from your twelve-year-old boy.

...and there's nothing like constructive criticism from your ten-year-old:
"Less mustard next time," Jackie advises, swiping her mouth again.
"Use your napkin!" I repeat, filing away my daughter's tip. She's right about la moutarde.

As I fine-tune my mental menu, checking and unchecking boxes, noting my family's likes and dislikes, I feel a cold, wet nose knocking at my elbow. That would be our dog, Braise (brez), reminding me to tick the "more scraps" box.
"Merci, Braise!" I say, rubbing my wet elbow. "Now won't you use your napkin, too?"

                          *     *     *

Tomato Pie / La Tarte à la Tomate

This recipe comes from a French friend, and not my mother-in-law. Rachel (rah-shel) is also la marraine (godmother) to our daughter. The ingredients and mode d'emploi were huffed and puffed to me during a grueling hike (we'd finished the tomato pie during a rest stop) somewhere near the town of Martigues... or was it Marseilles... or Marignane? Memory fails me, but the recipe is too simple (and too delicious) to forget:

1 store-bought pie crust (here, we use a puff pastry, or "pâte feuilletée")
2 or 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 cup of shredded Emmental cheese (or Gruyère)
2 or 3 large tomatoes, sliced

Roll out the store-bought crust (if rollable). Make sure the crust base is pre-cooked or the tart may turn out doughey-bottomed... Slather mustard across the dough's surface. Sprinkle cheese over the mustard and set the sliced tomatoes across the top. Add salt, pepper, herbes de Provence (optional) and a filet or "swirl" of olive oil to taste. Cook the tomato pie in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes.

*variation: try tapenade (crushed olive spread) in the place of the mustard.

Tart pan removeable  
Tart or Quiche pan with removable base. The double layer non-stick coating eliminates the need for flouring the pan, and allows for quick release and easy cleanup. Check out this and other tart and quiche pans, here.

French Vocabulary

la tarte = pie; Tu devrais la faire plus souvent, maman = You should make this more often, Mom; le pot-au-feu = boiled beef with vegetables; coche (cocher ) = to check off (box); la tarte (f) à la tomate = tomato pie; fade = (pronounced "fad") bland, insipid; le mode d'emploi = how to, directions; merci = thanks

Bonne cuisine madame ange

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  "Window Door" (c) Kristin Espinasse

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Bonjour Kristin.

Thank you for sharing this particular "slice" of your life. Not only was the scene described in a way that made me feel that I was there at the table with you and the children, but in the height of tomato season, I now have a new favorite recipe to add to my files. It is delicious! I even made two more to give to friends!! I must have missed this post in the fall (always so busy with getting the kids back to school) of 2007, unfortunately. I hope you are enjoying much fun on your vacation!


I'm guessing one does not put the pie crust in a tart pan but places it flat on the baking sheet on some parchment?


Thanks for the recipe, and I'd be so grateful for any of your other family recipe favorites if they would work well into your column! And I laughed when I read that you appreciated the meal direction from your son. It's so nice when they will express preferences (so much easier to just make what they like!).


Thank you for the recipe. I think I can handle this one, with store bought crust of course (sadly). Do you have a good ratatouille recipe? Of course that one has to be simple too...my talents, if you can tell, are not hidden in the kitchen.


Betty Bailey

Je coche la tarte à la tomate! Merci, Kristin!


Please explain if it is in a pie form or a tart form. Merci!

Cindy Gooch

Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un d'autre qui pense "cocher" devrait dire "to pig out"?

Terry Miller

How funny that your current post should be about a tomato pie when I just myself made my first tomato pie this past weekend. Mine was a bit different from yours using mozzarella, parmesan, garlic, fresh basil from my garden and a prepared pie crust; but it also received rave reviews. If you have leftover pie, reheat it in a sauce pan on your stove top using a bit of cooking spray...the bottom will crisp up nicely.



Thanks so much for this recipe in the height of the summer tomato season! I cooked my own version of it tonight and it was delicious.

Since we like to eat whole grains and there is no whole grain pie crust, much less puff pastry, in the grocery store, I used 4 large whole wheat tortillas. You microwave them for 30 seconds each so they soften up a bit before baking. It works! The final product is a little like artisan pizzas. Also, I served the tarts with baby epinards and fresh garlic sauteed in butter and olive oil. Yum!

Geary Arceneaux

"Tu devrais la faire plus souvent, maman."

Isn't it "Tu devras" ?

Or am I missing something again?



I am definitely going to have to try this recipe! Our tomatoes have finally begun to all ripen at once, and on my list to try as well is tomato sorbet. I will post the recipe when I make it...yum!

Pat Cargill

Sounds yummy good - will give this recipe a try today.

Cynthia in the French Alps

One of my challenges is learning the 'likes and dislikes' of my new 'stepchildren.' Just when I think I figured it out, I screw up again. I went out of my way to buy a prepared dressing at the market since Bernard's daughter doesnt like homemade dressing, and then I find out she doesnt like mustard either (which is the kind of dressing I bought). Having kids is all new to me, and at 50, maybe I'm too old to remember so many details. Cynthia in the French Alps

Michael Morrison

Thanks for your recipe for tarte à la tomate. I made it already today (exactly according to your recipe). It was both delicious and simple.

I live in East Tennessee (USA). In this region, we are blessed to have tomatoes from nearby Grainger county. These tomatoes are espcially tasty and enjoy the equivalent of the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or AOC. As a result, the tarte was everything expected and more.

Thanks again for the recipe! I plan on making it many more times in the future.


Thanks for the recipe! I made the tart and it was delicious, but my tomatoes must have been "too juicy" and they made the tart a bit soggy. Any advice? I layered the tomatoes 2 or 3 deep on the top, but perhaps I should use fewer and arrange them in just one layer? My husband really enjoyed it, and I want to get it just right next time!


Thanks so much for the reminder about the tart. I made it several times last summer using puff pastry and it was a big hit but forgot all about it until reading this post. I have several tomatoes so will make one tomorrow. I planted my tomatoes very late (mid-July) as we were in France until the end of June and knew they wouldn't be properly cared for while I was gone--I should have tomatoes until the end of November so will enjoy the tart into the fall.

Maria Cochrane

Bonjour Kristen - I, too, made your tarte..and like Monica...a bit too juicy.

En plus...I followed the link for Pâté Brisée and found the recipe at the end...and made the crust from scratch this past Sunday afternoon. It was a success!!! I religiously followed the pattern of rolling it out twice, folding in 3rds, repeat and then put in frig for 30 minutes - all of which had to be done for a total of SIX times...took about 3 1/2 hours. But it was worth it. Not hard...just time consuming. My husband raved and I beamed..

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I keep reading how gorgeous it is in the South of France. That's on my list of places to visit.

Michael Buozis

Bonjour Kristin,

Thank you so much for posting this recipe. My girlfriend and I made it this past weekend and it was delicious! I'd love to see more of this sort of thing on the newsletter - things we can do ourselves to bring France into our own homes.

Thanks again,


Monica: thanks for your note. I forgot to mention "one layer" of tomatoes.

Diane: re placement of the store-bought tart: either way. You can put it in a tart pan (which the extra dough "climbing" the pan walls...) or flat on a pizza tray (I usually use this method, keeping the wax paper intact).

Maria: pâte brisée from scratch. You are brave!

Michael: I'll try to add more recettes. Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiasm!

Geary: not sure about devrais/devras... can anyone help with how to say "you should make this more often". On second thought, "devra" is sounding familiar... perhaps the kids said this afterall. I'll try to tune-in better next time!


"Maman, tu DEVRAIS (you should, conditionnel tense) faire cette tarte plus souvent".

"O.K. mon cheri, mais alors tu DEVRAS (you will have to, future tense) m'aider."

Miam miam...

Marti Hinman

Geary, was puzzled with, "devrais" he or she thought it should be devras. Your son of course is right he was using the conditional devrais and not the future devras.

Deborah atkins

Merci Beaucoup.
We love reading your French word a day.
We have just purchased the book.
Many years ago my husband and I cycled through France and fell in llovenot only wit each other but the country side.
Our son who studied French for many years was fortunate to attend university in Toulon, since then we have become true Francophiles.
When you write about Aix and Le Maxime you bring back wonderful memories.
Our plan is to spend more time in France in our later years while we are still young enough to enjoy .
Many Thanks
Deborah from beautiful Sydney Australia

Nancy Mulloy-Bonn

"Never argue with your husband over a tree." I shall remember that good advice! Merci.


We and our family and friends have enjoyed this recipe since first posted. Sometimes I use puréed artichoke hearts for the first layer....or cartelized onions. It's always a special treat.


Hi Karen,
I keep losing my printed version of this recipe. I am back again today to help remind me of the ingredients. It's been a couple of years since I last made it, so I couldn't remember if this had egg or not in it. And now I remember that I have to put the cheese on top of the mustard and then put the tomatoes on top of the cheese. I was thinking it was the other way around, so I am glad I came back to check.
It is cloudy in Brittany today. Hope it's better where you are.
Best regards,


Oops Kristin, sorry for calling you Karen - it is because I read the first comment.
Just delete my comments, okay? But thanks again for the recipe!
Take care,

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