Something the French never eat & our first official wine harvest
To come to a decision. On Turning the Page of our vineyard dream

Tarte Tomate : that seasonal French recipe you love and have been asking for!

I know this tomato picture is crooked. Just tilt your head and carry on. A good recipe awaits you!

TODAY'S WORD: cocher (ko-shay) verb

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

cocher la bonne réponse = to check the correct answer


by Kristi 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! Here it is. Enjoy it and share it:

1 store-bought pie crust (or make this fast, easy shortcrust pastry)
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 doughy-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 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.
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

This one was made with cherry tomatoes! Here are some helpful tools for your tart!

Chair with cherry tomatoes

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Mary V

We use the frozen beurre d'ail persille you can buy in French grocery stores instead of mustard, and leave off the cheese. Add coarse salt!

Kate Dickerson

It's only 6:00 in Massachusetts, and I am already hungry for your gorgeous tarte. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I know what we'll be having for lunch in a few hours. : )

Charmarie Blaisdell

I add a layer of thinly sliced onion.
Slice onion, place on cookie sheet, bake in 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Adds just a bit more flavor. And I top the tarte with shredded Asiago cheese.


I have made this many times after first seeing your recipe a year or so ago. It's wonderful!! A hit with everyone who eats it!! I think I'll take Charmarie's suggestion and add some sliced onion next time.
Thanks for all of your suggestions on where to buy French themed things. Each of your posts takes me on a wonderful shopping spree! I always look forward to seeing what you suggest.

Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)

I love a good tomato tarte - t'is the season!


I make this every summer now! It's one of my mother-in-law's favorites!


The links to The pronunciation guide aren't showing up.
And thank you for la recette.

Nancy LoBalbo

I have been making this every summer since you first posted it. Everyone LOVES it, it's easy and made with fresh garden tomatoes it's just delightful. Thanks for this (-:


A version from years ago from you has been a family favorite. Sometimes tomatoes, sometimes carmelized onion. I always smile and think your family when I make them! I still can barely speak a word of french, but you did inspire us to follow our hearts, and we now, as retired folks, spend 2 1/2 months a year in a small town in Italy. My mouth is watering for a tart, but we are without an oven. Next week traveling for a few days we will have an oven...and lots of fresh tomatoes from the farmers' market. Yummy. Can't wait.

Carol & William Cobb

Hi Kristi,

Your recipe sounds divine and I must try it before the last tomatoes of late summer disappear. Also, I have a favor to ask. My husband and I subscribed to Benjamin Houy's French Lessons and paid for them with a credit card. Somehow the link to the lessons has been accidentally deleted from our computer. I sent an e-mail to Benjamin, a few days ago, but did not get a reply yet. Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps the e-mail I found for him is not the correct one. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon as to how to reach Benjamin. Many thanks, Carol


Je vais faire une version de cette tarte ce soir. Merci Beaucoup pour la recette.
AnneMarie J



We have been making this dish ever since seeing your original post. It is so easy (even on notre bateau) and delicious. In the Dordogne last year we house sat for a couple that had a large tomato garden. We has this dish almost every day because the tomatoes were so exquisite.. French feuille dough is perfect for the crust.

Best wishes

Randy and Debbie

Bateau Alouette


OK I have to make this before the summer tomatoes disappear. I think that I'll add the onions.


Joan L.

Sounds wonderful... Where do ordinary mortals find Emmental cheese? Joan

Patty Cargill

Kristi, aah, la tarte a la tomate! Best late-summer food ever. I use my pizza dough recipe and bake it in a 425 deg oven. Yumsville. Thinking of you and wishing you et J-M the very best, toujours! Hugs, Patty

Vicky from Athens

My Kroger has it. Also Fresh Market and Trader Joe's.


Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful(and mouth watering!!) post today!
And also thanks to you,dear Kristi,we have been fortunate to enjoy this treat many times since you first shared it with us.I think that we all must have some telepaphy going because I also top the feuilletee dough with caramelized onions, cheese(and tomatoes)!YUM!
What really wrapped me in hugs,though,was a visit with you and the younger selves of dear Jackie and Max! (And Braise,too, of course)
So totally happy to remember!
Once again you put smiles in our day!


Thanks, Kristi! Your reposted blog inspired me. My children are just a couple years younger than yours and I'm realizing how fast time flies! With your inspiration, we had a lovely family dinner - tarte tomate, salad and chicken in lemon cream sauce. ❤️


The tarte aux tomates recipe is exactly the same as one given to me by a French friend. But using tapenade rather than mustard sounds interesting. Merci!

Patricia Cowan

Most upscale markets typically carry Emmental.

Maria Bergman

Made this for brunch today! Sooo delicious!

I shared the recipe with my tomato-a-holic daught!

Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

Lois Kerr

How long do you precook the pastry base so that it is not doughy?
You do that before you pile on the ingredients, n'est-ce pas?

Andree MacColl

In almost any supermarket.


Emmental is what Americans call Swiss's the cheese with the air holes.

Marge Fredrickson

The tarte aux tomatoes is something I have been making for years and is always a big hit. A bit of basil is good too.

It would be wonderful to have you living in Portland. Have always wanted to visit you in France, and in Sept. of this year we will be close, but will be with friends staying in Carcassonne for a week. Portland is my favorite city in the U.S., having grown up very near there. We tried to see Jean-Marc when he was there with his wine some years back, but couldn't work it out.

Thank you for your years of posting!... So very enjoyable.

Paul Banas

We been making this for Christmas eve every year for 20 years (from a Bernard Loiseau recipe). It's always a hit and gets the same reaction as chez vous, except in our house, it's "Papa, pourquoi tu ne la fait pas plus souvent."

I should make it today though while summer tomatoes are sweet and plentiful!

Katheryn Lyman

Dear Kristi, Do you have other recipes? Is there a way to search for them in your blog? Gordon had a wake-up call, everything is OK, but we are using The Mediterranean Diet now. I copied your tomato pie and ratatouille recipe. Thanks for sharing. Are there others? We love your posts, but are now making up for lost time.

Kristin Espinasse

Sending wishes to Gordon for une bonne rétablissement. Thank you for asking about the recipes. There are more, but they are scattered around the blog. At the very bottom of todays post, you will find a category tag marked recettes or recipes. Click on it. 

Donna Grieder

I lived in a village in Provence more than 30 years ago. I remember my neighbors making this delicious thing: the crust, with mustard and the tomatoes and herbes de provence. Without the cheese, they called it Tarte a la Moutarde.

Susan ludvigson

What a joy to have this come up. It’s the first time this summer I’ve seen your blog. I will certainly try the tart as soon as possible. I am in my little house In Puivert, in the Aude, and I will definitely make it the next time I have company. My sister was here until a couple of days ago. I’m painting and writing, had an aperitif party with 16 people, French, English, Spanish and Israeli, as well as Americans, just a few nights ago. It’s nearly dark but I can still see outlines of mountains. Except for the cry of a bird I can’t identify, all is very quiet. I was watching a Jacque Tati movie when I suddenly got a message in English saying the tv was about to shut down. Maybe I didn’t pay a bill? Will check on it. Meantime, it’s alovely night to read—a biography of Andre Malraux. One of these days I’d love to meet. Susan Ludvigson
all is quiet.

Larry& Marilyn Griffith

Hi Kristi,
Glad to see your recent newsletter and hope all is going well. Marilyn & I continue to live in Provence and love it!
We are from Calif and continue to take French lessons. After moving here Marilyn decided to teach me how to spin and weave in our atelier which now includes 3 spinning wheels, 2 looms , 2 antique circular sock machines,etc. Retirement in Provence has been great but we hope to return to a NON covid environment soon ( in France).

Sherry Frank

Missed your lovely words this summer, but I know how important it is to rest and recharge and come back fresh and renewed. I have been following since the very beginning when one of my staff shared it with me. I live still in Lexington, Kentucky, yes, horse country. Retired now and enjoy plotting my next escape to France when uncertainty of this pandemic passes. I have many wonderful memories -- visiting and meeting you and Jean Marc at Domaine Rouge Bleu, winning the book you used to demonstrate how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, driving 5 hours to Virginia to buy a case of Mas de Brun rose'. That was wonderful rose' and I was sad when you sold the vineyard. The Tarte Tomate is one of my summer staples. Making it today with a Pate' brise' crust. It has been a joy to watch your children become the outstanding adults that they are and to have the privilege of sharing your journey.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)