Dining With the Saints

 assumption - poussin

The Feast of the Assumption


August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, a national holiday celebrated throughout Italy. This is a joyous occasion that celebrates the taking of the Virgin Mary, body and soul, into heaven. It also marks the start of the summer vacation season for all Italians. Weary, irritated families start leaving big cities in droves, making their way, often in horrendous traffic jams, to every shore and mountain resort of Italy. It’s also a time when baskets are packed with traditional Italian picnic food. Anything that can be sliced, assembled, and served at room temperature, either bought or homemade, is loaded up for the journey. Frittatas cooked with summer vegetables, rice and bean salads, cheeses, fruit, bread, cured meats such as prosciutto and mortadella, and savory and sweet tortas using summer produce are all great things to bring along or prepare at a summer house. Here’s an easy torta using ripe August tomatoes and a light, easy to work with olive oil crust. Let this torta cool for at least an hour before slicing.



Tomato Tart with Pecorino and Rosemary

 (Serves four as a lunch or light dinner, or eight as an appetizer)


For the crust:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves well chopped


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup water

A 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, preferably one with smooth not fluted sides (you can also use a tart ring, if you like)


For the filling:

 Approximately 2 doz. cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves well chopped

1 teaspoon sugar


Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup grated young pecorino Toscano

¼ cup heavy cream

1 large egg

 In a large bowl, mix the flour with the rosemary and a little salt.  In a small bowl, stir the egg, olive oil, and water together and pour it over the flour. Stir to blend everything, and then dump the dough out onto a work surface and knead it very briefly, just until it holds together in a more or less smooth ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest, unrefrigerated, for about an hour.

 Place the tomatoes in a bowl. Add the mustard, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and sugar. Season with salt and black pepper, and toss well. Let the tomatoes sit at room temperature, tossing them around a few times, while the dough is resting.

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat your tart pan with a little olive oil. Roll out the dough and drape it into the tart pan, cutting off the overhang. Sprinkle half the cheese into the tart shell. Line the tart with the tomatoes, in slightly overlapping circles. Save the juice left from the tomato marinade. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little extra salt and black pepper.

 Whisk together the remaining cheese, cream, egg, and about a tablespoon of the tomato marinade liquid. Season with a little salt and black pepper and pour this evenly over the tomatoes. Bake until browned and set, about 35 to 40 minutes.


“Dining With the Saints” is a monthly column written by the chef and foodwriter Eric DeMane. Her website is: EricaDeMane.com

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