British tomatoes are at their best right now and after a long cold winter it’s the perfect time to celebrate this great fruit. Victoria is a BIG tomato fan. She explains why the tomato is the “king of the allotment” and shares a beautiful recipe for Roast Tomato Tart to brighten your lunch or supper.
I have waxed lyrical about my love affair with tomatoes before, because in my mind there really is no greater king of the allotment. Right now, it’s British Tomato Week, which is the perfect excuse for me (and you, if there are any left once I’m done) to scoff as many as I can reach. When I was a child, my Grandad used to grow what we now call “heritage” tomatoes by the bucketload.
We had everything from yellow cherry tomatoes to great big, green and red striped beauties and everything in between. Sadly, living in a third floor flat, which boasts only a narrow fire escape as outdoor space, has prevented me from following in my grandfather’s tomato growing footsteps, but it hasn’t managed to quash my passion for eating them.
When tomatoes are out of season, they taste almost nothing like tomatoes. In fact, they taste almost of nothing at all. Sad little lumps of hard orange fruit, they’re really good for nothing more than grilling to soften them up enough to cut through and even then it’s still a horrible compromise on flavour. I stick to tinned toms and ketchup offseason and wait for the pillar box juicy red fruits to adorn my salad plates from late Spring. We may not be basking in shorts and t-shirt weather yet, but if this tomato tart can’t brighten up your weekend, I’m not sure anything can.
I made this tart with my own special gluten free puff pastry, but I’m going to have to keep that recipe under my hat for now, I’m afraid. But don’t fret, this tart will be equally delicious using gluten free shortcrust or traditional wheat flour puff pastry instead; the recipe for which I have shared below.
Roast Tomato Tart
4 good sized ripe British tomatoes, sliced horizontally into 1cm slices
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 large onions, sliced into half moons
1 heaped tbsp. capers
1 heaped tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 heaped tbsp. soured cream
150g Manchego cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
A block of puff pastry (you can use shop bought or make your own using the recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 140°C (120°C fan)
Place the slices of tomato on a baking tray and sprinkle with the garlic and generously season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive and oil and pop in the oven to slow roast for 45 minutes.
In the meantime, sauté the onions in a little oil until soft and slightly golden, season and turn off the heat and set aside until you need them.
Roll out the pastry and line a 23cm loose-based round tart tin and preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Spread the mustard on the tart case and sprinkle over the onions and capers before scattering half of the grated cheese over the top. Whisk together the eggs and soured cream and season. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and carefully spread evenly. Scatter over the remaining cheese and arrange the tomato slices on top with the thyme leaves. Pop the tart in the oven for 25 minutes and leave to cool slightly before taking it out of its tin. This tart is delicious served hot, cold or warm.
250g plain flour
250g chilled unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
2 tsp lemon juice
100-145ml fridge-cold water
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the lemon juice into the water and pour most of the lemon-y water into the flour and use your hands to mix together to form a firm dough, adding more water if necessary. This dough is called détrempe. Flatten the détrempe, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
Roll the détrempe into a neat rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Place the packet of butter in a plastic sandwich/freezer bag and, using a rolling pin, “rib roll” the butter - this basically means bashing the butter to flatten it slightly in close together sections going up the butter so it looks like the butter has “ribs”. Now bash the butter flat so you have one solid flat rectangular slab, which is about 3/4 inch thick.
Place the slab of butter in the centre of your détrempe rectangle and fold the edges of the dough over the edges of the butter so you are left with a neat parcel.
Dust flour over the worktop and turn the dough over on to the floured surface. Dust some flour over the top of the dough and gently roll the dough into a neat rectangle about 16” in length and 8” wide.
Position the dough so that one of the narrow ends (8”) is facing you. Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough into three - just like when you are folding an A4 letter to fit into an envelope. Fold the top section, the one furthest away from you, first and then fold the bottom section up to meet it. Seal the edges together with your fingers. Dust the work surface with more flour and turn the dough 90 degrees so that the folds are running vertically in front of you. Roll the pastry once again into a neat rectangle 16” x 8” in size. Brush off any excess flour and fold in three again, just as before. Seal the edges with your fingers and wrap the dough in cling film and pop it back in the fridge for at least half an hour to rest.
Repeat stages 6 to 12 twice more always ensuring that you start with the folds in the pastry running vertically in front of you and that you leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour between each roll. In the end your dough will have been rolled out 6 times and rested in the fridge 3 times. Let the puff pastry rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using.
For more delicious tart recipes - visit Great British Chefs inspiring collection. What would you serve this lovely Tomato Tart with? Let us know here or over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.