Flathead Cherries and Heirloom Tomato Tart

By CHEF HOWARD KARP for the Flathead Beacon

It’s time to celebrate our Flathead cherries and local tomatoes! This symphony of flavors screams summer with these two sweet-and-tart fruits that ripen at the same time. The hint of pickled watermelon rind makes this an unforgettable summer dish.

Yield: Six 3-inch tarts


  • 1/2 recipe for flakey pie dough (see my Flathead Beacon article from July 16). Add to the dough: 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of finely cracked black pepper.
  • All-purpose flour (for rolling)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 small heirloom tomatoes, halved and sliced in thin wedges
  • 7 gold or red cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. of finely diced pickled water melon rind (recipe below)
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 12 Flathead cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center. Using a half sheet pan, put six 3-inch tart molds on pan.


Pickled Watermelon Rind

A small watermelon will yield enough rind to pickle. Slice the melon into crescents and remove the flesh. Slice the rind evenly so that the rind will pickle evenly, the beet adds a beautiful color to the rind.

  • 4 1/2 cups of watermelon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper corns
  • 1 small beet halved and peeled

Add all ingredients except watermelon to a saucepan. Bring the pickling mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, pour the mixture over the rind and allow to cool to room temperature.


On a floured table, roll out pie dough 1/8 inches thick. Cut six circles from the dough, fit the dough in molds and trim excess. Line each mold with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake in oven until golden brown (20 – 30 minutes). Remove paper and weights and allow to cool before removing from molds. (This process can be done a day ahead of time, and crusts covered and stored at room temperature.)

Tomato Compote

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and add shallot and garlic. Cook until soft. Add 1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar and the balsamic vinegar. Scrape the bottom of the pan then add plum tomatoes and thyme. Cover and gently simmer until liquid has evaporated (around an hour, stirring occasionally). Remove thyme sprigs and allow compote to cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling Tarts

In a medium bowl, add the cherries, cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomato wedges, and season with extra virgin olive oil and the remaining Spanish sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of compote in the bottom of the tart shells. Fill the shells with cherry mixture, being careful not to add the liquid.

Top with the pickled watermelon and basil leaves and serve immediately (shells will become soggy quickly).