Heirloom Tomato Napoleon


Nothing says summer quite like a vine-ripened, juicy tomato.

Maybe that’s why Away to Garden’s Margaret Roach selected the tomato as the final theme in the four-week Summer Fest 2009.

illustration by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites.com

illustration by Matt Armendariz of Mattbites.com

Ms. Roach created Summer Fest 2009 as a way to “cross-pollinate” blogs. Along with her co-creators, she wrote weekly posts around themes, and invited the whole community to join in. She asked others to leave comments and/or links to other posts about the themes.

I did just that: week one: herbs, week two: fruits from trees, week three: greens & beans, and now, tomatoes.

I also left comments on the co-creators’ blogs and on the other great blogs I found by reading through the comments.

Before I jump into my final Summer Fest post let’s see what the co-creators and special guests of Summer Fest 2009 have dreamed up for you this week.

That’s a bountiful basket full of ideas to honor the Grand Dame of summer — the glorious tomato.

Since I did a rather involved recipe for last week’s greens & beans theme, I’ve whipped up something really simple for this week:

Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Napoleon


Although I couldn’t resist giving it a fancy name, it’s nothing more than a fancy tomato sandwich. I’m using heirloom tomatoes, because they taste better than hybrid versions, and they are everywhere right now from farmers markets to local grocery stores.

If you are interested in learning more about heirloom tomatoes, and perhaps even growing some, I recommend The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Tableby Amy Goldman, and Seed Savers, a non-profit organization that sells all kinds of heirloom seeds, including some beautiful tomato varieties.

(You can download a PDF of the Holiday Gift Book Round Up article I wrote for Edible Phoenix last year on several garden cookbooks, including The Heirloom Tomato book.)

The Napoleon is traditionally a stacked dessert of puff pastry, pastry cream and strawberries. Even though my version is more of a savory dish, I did work in a hint of sweetness as you’ll see a little later.

Tomatoes are, after all, technically a fruit. You could serve this Napoleon for brunch, but it could easily work at breakfast or dinner, too.


Even though this is a vegetarian Napoleon, you could add crisped bacon or prosciutto slices, or even lump crab or cooked shrimp to make it more substantial.

The only “cooking” involved in this version is baking the puff pastry.


A more ambitious cook than I might tackle making the puff pastry dough from scratch. Made-from-scratch puff pastry dough is far superior to store-bought dough, although that’s what I’ve used here because, like I said, I’m not feeling ambitious. In fact, I’m feeling kind of lazy this summer.

If you want to make fresh puff pastry dough, I highly recommend you visit Ashley Rodriguez’s lovely blog, Not Without Salt.

Here are her two posts on how to make puff pastry. The first post contains the recipe (which was written by a couple chefs I know, Sarah Labensky and Skip Hause. Their book, On Cooking, now in it’s 4th edition, is a professional text book, hence the expensive price tag.)

Ashley’s second post is a pictorial display of the puff pastry technique. With these two posts, you can become a puff pastry king or queen in no time. Well, maybe a little time.


About the sweetness in this Napoleon I referred to earlier: I slathered a bit of Cotton Country Jams spiced tomato jam onto the puff pastry. Cotton Country Jams is a local Phoenix company, and they make the most incredible jams and pickled vegetables. I’m crazy about their candy-sweet pickled beets, too. (Phone number is (602) 268-3181.)


This Napoleon is really nothing more than puff pastry, tomatoes, herbed goat cheese and jam. That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

OK, you’re turn. Leave a comment and tell me about your favorite summer tomato recipe.


Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Napoleon

Serves 6

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
4 ounces soft, fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons cream (or half and half)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato jam (or apricot or other light colored jam)
1-1/2 pounds heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/3-inch thick

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

2. Unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut along the fold lines into three strips. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut in half with a serrated knife, creating a top and bottom.

3. Stir the cream, herbs and pepper into the goat cheese.

4. Spread the goat cheese on the top and bottom of two of the puff pastries. (The third top and bottom will become the middle layer of the other two.)

5. Spread the middle layer with the jam (just 1 side of each, it doesn’t matter if you do the inside or the outside.)

6. Layer 1/4 of the sliced tomatoes on each of the two bottom halves with the goat cheese. Top each with the jam smeared layer. Layer with the remaining tomatoes and place the tops on. Cut into thirds, crosswise, to create six pieces and serve.


20 replies
  1. chefgwen
    chefgwen says:

    Deb – thank you! Nice to hear from you again. Keep up your beautiful Italian food blog.

    Ms. Christie – love your salad, looks so refreshing.

    Anita – your bourbon tomato jam sounds lovely. You must share your recipe! Or send me a jar 🙂

    Kim – thank you and so sorry about sticky-hot NYC. Your peach and tomato salad should cool you off!

  2. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    Oh, this looks so summer perfect! I’m haven’t made scratch puff pastry in some time now – but this might give me a good reason. Your Summer Fest posts are, no shocker, just ripe and fabulous.

  3. Rosy
    Rosy says:

    Hi Gwen! That looks soooooo good – imagining it as a spectacular starter for a late summer meal in the garden. See, that’s the only problem with Summer Fest – I now have about a gazillion recipes I want to try but not enough time to do it!!! Your Summer Fest posts are great and so pleased that I ran into your blog through it! R x

  4. Marion Roach Smith
    Marion Roach Smith says:

    OHMYGOODNESS. This is perhaps the most divine tomato yummy thing I’ve seen ever, combining two of my favorite things to eat. I have never, not ever, met a Napoleon that I did not love, and feel similarly about tomatoes. But combining them. Nope, never thought of it. Until now. Thank you. My favorite tomato is one that is sliced, placed amid two pieces of homemade bred and garnished with fresh pesto.

  5. chefgwen
    chefgwen says:

    Cosmic Cowgirl – thank you… love your tart pan. Must get one.

    Rosy – I feel the same way. Found so many wonderful new recipes (and fun blogs) through Summer Fest…including yours.

    Marion – Thank YOU for commenting. I love reading all the voices on The Sister Project.

  6. Dana Treat
    Dana Treat says:

    Well, I haven’t made this yet, but if I did it would probably be my favorite way to use tomatoes. 🙂 Actually, Annie Sommerville has a recipe for the most amazing blue cheese dressing so I love heirlooms with a bit of arugula, some cherry tomatoes, and that dressing.

  7. merry jennifer
    merry jennifer says:

    This looks absolutely heavenly. My problem with tomatoes is simply that my husband won’t eat them, nor will my children. I adore tomatoes, but never really do much with them because of my family’s strange dislike of them.

    I swear I’m going to make this for myself this weekend, though.

    Best summer tomato recipe that I’ve had lately was an heirloom tomato salad with chunks of watermelon and a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, shaved red onion, and basil. Bliss.

    • chefgwen
      chefgwen says:

      Merry Jennifer – Thanks for stopping by. Must be hard living with non-tomato eaters. I feel for you. And oh, my yes, that tomato watermelon salad sounds divine.

  8. manila58
    manila58 says:

    I’m the only one in my household that eats raw tomatoes. Starting to taste the different heirloom varieties; a long way to go but it will be a fun journey.

    Favorite summer tomato dish: veggie pita with tomato, sprouts, grilled balsamic eggplant, cucumber, endive, arugula, crisp-fried sliced garlic; sliced brie optional. Pair with a chilled, crisp pinot grigio.


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  1. […] Grill them all and you can chopped up any leftovers to use in another salad, or put them on a tomato sandwich. […]

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