So here’s the thing. We try to keep it light, up-beat, and positive here on the blog—there’s so much great stuff out there to learn and talk about. But sometimes we gotta get serious, and this…well, this is one of those times.
Did you know that slavery is happening today in our country’s tomato fields? On any given day, the tomatoes in the sandwiches we eat may have been picked by workers in involuntary servitude: captive workers held against their will by employers through threats and violence. In the past 15 years, more than 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.
The good news is that folks are stepping up to change this tragedy, and you can get involved. On June 24, more than 50 bloggers participated in Food Bloggers for Slave-Free Tomatoes and while we’re a bit late to the game (what else is new!), there’s still plenty of time to get involved.
Recipe for Change, a campaign led by International Justice Mission in partnership with the Fair Food Standards Council and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, is targeting three major supermarket chains this summer (Ahold, Publix and Kroger’s), and asking its CEOs to support the Fair Food Program. Corporations that join agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (just 1.5 cents more per pound), and promise to shift purchases to the tomato growers who abide by these higher standards—and away from those who won’t.
Major fast food companies, like McDonalds and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program, but the largest U.S. supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.
Call to Action:
Supermarkets can help eliminate slavery and other serious abuses from the tomato supply chain when they join the Fair Food Program. But in order to change its policies, CEOs need pressure from consumers.
- Take 30 seconds to send a quick letter to help ensure that supermarket tomatoes are slave-free. It’s super easy.
- If you’re here in Charlottesville, look for Local Food Hub heirloom tomatoes when you shop — and if you don’t see them, encourage your grocer to start buying from Local Food Hub. Our tomatoes are local, slave-free, ripe, and absolutely delicious — and we deliver!
Then, when you get your hands on some of those amazing ‘maters, take some time to make this tart. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the fresh flavor and diversity of heirlooms, and the Parmesan crust provides a salty, snappy contrast that’s irresistible.
Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
This recipe will make one 9 or 10-inch tart OR five 4 1/2-inch tarts.
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4-ounce chunk of fresh Parmesan cheese, microplane-grated
1 Tbs. chopped fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme (optional)
2 Tbs. ice cold water
approximately 6 LOCAL medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick
1 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
2 Tbs. best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered basil
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Make the tart crust(s):
Place both flours, butter, Parmesan, and herbs if using in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Put the dough in the tart pan(s). Working quickly, press the dough uniformly starting at bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
Prep the tomatoes:
To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. While crust is chilling, clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.
Bake the tart crust:
Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.
Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.