For Valentine's Day, I have moved from producing elaborate candlelight dinners to sharing simpler culinary seductions. Successful favorites include chocolate mousse or the ever-delightful pairing of fresh raspberries with whipped cream. This year, honoring the tradition of red for romance, I am making a less-traditional fruit-based dish.

The idea started while researching information about tomatoes, which are classified botanically as a fruit. Looking at data about their health benefits (tomatoes are rich in lycopene, vitamin C and an abundance of other antioxidants), I came across the historical nugget that tomatoes were once called "love apples." The misnomer, they speculate, came from a mistranslation of a word in the Old Testament, which led to tomatoes being associated with plants believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

With my heart set on a tomato-themed dish, I recalled a remarkable dinner I once enjoyed that featured tomatoes in every course. The meal ended with a sparkling cherry tomato tart for dessert. Classic (except for the tomatoes), it featured a thin crust cupping a creamy custard filling. The tomatoes set on top of the custard glowed under a caramelized sugar glaze. Beautiful, seductive and delicious.

But wrestling to fit a delicate crust into little pans, plus cooking the custard was too much work. Instead, I took inspiration from this creation instead of reproducing it. Easy to make, the result cuts down on fat and calories, yet remains indulgently rich.

Marrying sweet with savory, here are individual tartlets that make a perfect supper when paired with a salad. Their filling is softened goat cheese spread on a flat round of thin, buttery crust. Topping it are halved plum tomatoes gently baked to bring out their natural sugars, then glazed with a touch of sugar and baked again until they sparkle. The fleshy tomatoes soften but hold their shape through this double baking. For best flavor, buy the tomatoes a few days ahead and let them sit until they are deep red.

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Toasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp. canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp. ice water (approx.)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat goat cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp. reduced-fat milk
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up, and rub with oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until tomatoes are barely soft and hold their shape. Set aside, and decrease oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In food processor, combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. sugar and salt. Pulse a few seconds to combine. Add butter and oil. Pulse until mixture resembles lumpy crumbs. With food processor running, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough just starts to come together. Turn dough out onto wax paper and gently press together, making 5-inch disk. Wrap dough in wax paper and refrigerate 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
  3. If dough is chilled longer than 30 minutes, let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll out into an 11-inch disk. Remove top sheet of waxed paper. Using a glass as a guide, cut out four 4-inch rounds of dough and transfer to baking sheet. Prick dough all over with fork and refrigerate 10 minutes. Bake tartlet rounds 10 minutes. Remove baking pan and increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  4. For filling, in a small bowl, mash together goat cheese, shallots, milk and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread one-fourth of cheese on each tartlet round. Top with 2 roasted tomato halves, cut side up. Sprinkle remaining 1 tsp. sugar over tomatoes
  5. Bake 10 minutes, or until pastry edges are lightly golden. Cheese will look cracked. Let tartlets stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

250 calories
12 g total fat
4 g saturated fat
27 g carbohydrate
5 g protein
2 g dietary fiber
115 mg sodium

Diabetic Exchanges:
1-1/2 Bread/Starch; 1 Reduced-Fat Milk, 2-1/2 Fat