Monday, 20 May 2013

Golden Wonder

Torta Salata di Pomodorini Gialle, Ajvar, Basilico & Timo
Yellow Cherry Tomato, Ajvar, Basil & Thyme Tart

Small, sweet and adorable, these lovely little cherry tomatoes took my fancy whilst at the indoor market on Saturday, chatting with Nina, who always has the best produce from The Old Country for me. "Try one of these" she said and of course the second I popped one into my mouth, my fate (and that of the tomatoes) was sealed. It tasted heavenly!

So today I decided to use them to make something pretty and a little different. I had originally thought of making a "tart-tatin" out of them, but the thought of them cooking down, splitting open and becoming mush just made me sad. No, no, they had to stay looking beautiful! And this was the way I decided to try to do that...

I started off by halving the tomatoes and frying them with the cut side down in a little olive oil, with a couple of slices of garlic to add a little flavor- but not for too long! Just 1-2 minutes at a high heat was enough- just to start the cooking process in advance, before baking. 

Next, I cut my puff-pastry base to size- this was a small, saucer-sized tart, but obviously the method is the same whichever size you decide to make. I added a couple of strips of extra pastry to the outer edges to give it a nicer shape and pressed them down gently- they will stick to each other as they bake with no problem. I assembled the tart directly in the small non-stick pan I was going to bake it in... yes, my old frying pan trick again! The reason to make it directly IN the pan is... well- you try assembling it outside of the pan and then lifting it in there later... :-) I knew you would understand!

I then spread the base of the tart with spicy Ajvar, careful not to overlap onto the trim. I then placed 4 large basil leaves on top of that (the tart was so small that was all it took!) and on top of the basil, I sprinkled a layer of grated Parmesan cheese. These 3 ingredients would go to compliment the taste of the sweet tomatoes and the Parmesan would additionally do the job of holding everything together- pretty nifty!

I carefully set the tomatoes out on top and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper and popped my pan onto the stovetop whilst turning on the oven to 450°F and getting it ready to finish baking the tart. After 2-3 minutes maximum on the stove, with the base already baked-through in principle, I popped the tart into the oven on the top shelf for a further 4-5 minutes.  

Having started the baking process on the stove top and getting the base nice and firm, I avoided any chances of moisture seeping through from the topping- which is the worst thing that can happen to a pie or tart. The rest was just going through the motions as there was very little that actually needed much baking to be honest! The little bit of pastry that was exposed was done in next to no time and the tomatoes were soon cooked but also did not melt away to nothing... excellent!

Once the tart was finished and had cooled off, I added a generous sprinkle of fresh thyme for a little extra "zing" and lunch was finished and pretty much perfect! This would make a great side dish or appetizer too... so with the sunny days ahead of us (at some point... hopefully!!!), this is a great dish to consider! And one definitely to enjoy!

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