Twice Tomato Tart

It’s summer, and that means tomatoes. So when I was at my farmers market last week it came as no surprise there were lots on display. I was particularly attracted to a pile of tiny Roma tomatoes - the colour was incredible! When they’re this small they roast perfectly as they’re not too fleshy, so I thought maybe I would make a tart: something slightly organic, with a little spice. I remembered seeing a coconut oil pastry recipe somewhere that I thought would be interesting to try. Would that work with the tomatoes and spices? Perhaps - why not give it a go. Well, it certainly was easy to work with, and made a lovely crisp pastry with coconut nuances that complemented the spices I’d used perfectly. Also, for those interested, without the later addition of cheese, this recipe was completely vegan friendly. Then I decided to remake it with a classic buttery pastry for comparison. This more classic version was gorgeous, with the sweetness of the tomatoes shining through. My husband and I preferred this version – our daughter was undecided. But, hey, depending on your preference, and diet, isn’t it great to have a fabulous alternative? Make one, or the other, and let me know what you think. Although I haven’t included the recipe for the coconut oil pastry below, I have included it in my recipe section, under Entrées.

This tart serves 4 people, and it is very easy to double the recipe if you choose.As well as the ingredients listed below, you will also need, 1 egg yolk, 1tbsp milk, 50g soft goats cheese or Persian feta, fresh sprigs of marjoram and thyme, and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 1kilo ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large, or 2 small bulbs fennel, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1/2tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds
  • Rosemary, thyme and marjoram sprigs
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a small fry pan toast the coriander and fennel seeds over a low heat until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn. Remove to a mortar and pestle and crush, but not to a powder. Set aside. Lay the onion slices on the baking paper, followed by the fennel, and tuck the garlic and some of the herb sprigs, in and around the vegetables. Lay the tomato slices on top, season with salt, pepper and the crushed coriander and fennel seeds, and scatter with leaves from the rest of the herb sprigs. Drizzle generously with olive oil and place in the preheated oven for ½ hour. After this time, turn the oven down to 160C, and roast for another hour until caramelized and soft. Remove from oven, discard any twiggy herb branches, and slip the roasted garlic from its skin. Put everything in a food processor and blitz until it becomes a thick purée. Remove, and drain in a muslin lined sieve over a bowl for 2 hours. This will rid the sauce of any excess liquid. Put in the fridge until needed. It will keep for up to 5 days, or 3 months in the freezer.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 500g baby Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp each of coriander and fennel seeds, roasted and crushed as in the previous recipe
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut tomatoes in half, and place on tray. Sprinkle the spice mix, salt and pepper on top and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 180C and roast for another 15 minutes. At this stage, if they are small tomatoes, they should be ready. Turn off the oven and let them sit inside for an hour or two. Do not refrigerate.

The pastry

  • 110g plain flour, sieved
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 1 small egg
  • Salt

Put the flour, butter, egg and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until it forms a ball, this won’t take long. Remove from processor, shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours so that it loses all elasticity and will not shrink during baking.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200C, remove pastry from fridge, unwrap, and roll out to a diameter of approximately 30cm between 2 sheets of baking paper, put a layer of the roasted tomato sauce in the middle, leaving a 5cm border around the perimeter. You will have sauce leftover. Now, place roasted tomatoes over the sauce and bring the sides of the pastry up to cover some of the tomatoes. Just loosely drape it, it doesn’t need to be perfect, rustic is better. Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and milk and with a pastry brush, gently brush the exposed pastry with the glaze. Place the tart, still on baking paper, in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turn oven down to 180C and bake for another 10 minutes. The tart will be golden brown, and the pastry will be crisp. Remove from oven, scatter with the crumbled cheese and fresh herbs, drizzle with olive oil, and serve warm.