Every couple has it’s story; the telling of which makes them look somewhat coyly at each other and smile knowingly and that raise, once again, all those fluttery, buttery feelings of l’amour. The dashing Mr P and I met in a gorgeous little restaurant serving fabulous little meals, and if that wasn’t an omen for a happy future, I couldn’t tell you what would be. The speciality of that restaurant, the dish we would in the future, on numerous special occasions re-order and be delighted with every time, was, as so many brilliant signature dishes are, a simple, homely affair prepared to simple perfection. A tomato tart, to tomatoey, so tarty that it seemed, surely, a cinch to whip up at home. Time and again we’d order that tart, savouring each bite, meditating over each flavour and then I’d go home and try to recreate this seemingly simple delight. To no avail. No amount of research, no pugnacious attempt at different ingredients, different temperatures and different seasonings brought that tart out of my oven. Well, to each chef his secret, and the chef of that lover’s treat will sink his ship with the recipe on board.
However. That’s not to say I won’t stop trying, and while I’ll have to satisfy myself with the thought that the original tomato tart sits safely in it’s intended home, I’ll keep on whipping up versions of my own. None of which have come as close, if not in adherence to what the original seemed to be, at least in overall effect to that perfect tomato tart as this one has. Perhaps it’s the concentrated flavours of the cherry tomatoes, or perhaps it’s the mixture between the sheep’s milk and parmigiana cheeses, which in truth I used simply because I wanted to finish up the last bit of an excellent chunk of sheep’s milk cheese I had lying around in the fridge. Or perhaps it had to do with the teff flour in the pastry, of which the original surely had none. Truth is I just don’t know. I do know, however, that this tomato tart was a dream, a reminiscence, a revival of old memories and caused one or two coy glances on the parts of Mr P and myself.
*note: I made the pastry using teff pastry, which worked brilliantly, but if you want a blander crust use plain flour one to one for the teff.
Super Delicious Tomato Tarts
For the pastry:
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup teff flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ cup / 1 stick cold butter, unsalted, cubed
¼- ⅓ cup iced water
for the tart:
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 punnet (about 300g) baby cherry tomatoes, halved on the equator
50 grams hard sheep’s milk cheese, like a percorino, finely grated
50 grams parmigiano regano, finely grated
1 cup basil leaves, washed
make the pastry:
– combine all the dry ingredients, mixing well.
– rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture resembling oats porridge.
– add just enough water so that a dough just starts to form. As soon as it all starts coming together, stop mixing. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it a bit, cover it in cling film and refrigerate for about 40 mins.
– in a small bowl, mix the tomato paste, garlic, shallot, vinegar and oil. Let mixture rest at room temperature while the pastry chills
– preheat the oven to 400˚F
– divide the dough disc into two. Roll each piece to form a long rectangular shape, about 20cm by 30 cm
– spread half the tomato paste mixture on each rectangle, to withing 1½ inches, 4cm, of the edge
– combine the two cheeses and sprinkle half the mixture over each base on top of the tomato mix.
– now top each base with the basil leaves and then finish off with the tomato halves, skin side down, still keeping that 1½ half edge of raw pastry. Give each tart a generous grinding of black pepper.
– fold the bare edges of pastry up and over the side of each tart, folding and crimping as you go to secure. Don’t worry if it looks a little messy, that’s half the charm.
– bake for 25 minutes and then leave to rest outside the oven for about 5 minutes before eating.