by Tia Butts

Napa Valley Register

In the popular television series Game of Thrones, the phrase, “Winter is coming” has multiple meanings, but it generally means the residents need to be prepared as something bad is going to happen in the land of Westeros. Luckily for us, summer is here in the land of Napa Valley and that means something good is happening: The tomatoes are coming!

A few years ago, a friend’s daughter in her early 20s had come to Napa from southern France to live and work for the summer. One long weekend, we asked her to house and dog-sit for us. We will never forget the welcome we received when we returned home from the trip.

As we approached our front door, heady scents of pie crust, thyme, cheese and chocolate were wafting through the windows. It was as if we had arrived at a villa in a small village in the Languedoc. It was magical.

Tarts are not considered special-occasion fare in France, but this savory tart took the simplest of ingredients and elevated them into something spectacular. Leave it to the French.

I’m pleased to see beautiful tomatoes at the Napa Farmers Market and have been indulging in some delicious heirlooms from Gavel Farms.

As these ripe, red fruits continue to fill the vendors’ stalls and my own garden, I will definitely be making a French Tomato Tart.

It’s a simple way to take a quick vacation in your own kitchen. As a bonus, it’s also vegetarian and a great dish for a simple al fresco lunch or dinner with friends. If I’m really in a rush, I’ve been known to use store-bought pie dough.

French Tomato Tart

Adapted by David Lebovitz ( from A Culinary Journey in Gascon” by Kate Hill.

For those of you with tart dough “issues,” you can make this tart either free-style or in a fluted tart ring with a removable bottom. To make a free-style tart, roll the dough out to about 14 inches across, then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Top with the filling, leaving a 2-inch border, then fold the border over to partially enclose the filling.

Tart Dough

1-½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½ teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1 large egg

2 to 3 tablespoons ice water