This is the perfect tart to make when tomatoes are at their peak. I find that cherry tomatoes are best for this tart, and good-quality puff pastry is a must, so buy the best you can afford. Of course, you can substitute other vegetables for the topping, depending on what else you are growing.
For the tart bases
all-butter puff pastry
For the filling
medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
freshly ground black pepper
cherry tomatoes, halved
baby mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
black olives, stoned and cut into thirds
basil leaves, roughly torn
To serve (optional)
handful of basil leaves and stalks
garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground white pepper
To prepare the tart bases:
Cut the puff pastry into two equal portions and shape into balls. Roll each one out on a lightly floured surface to an 18–20cm round, 2mm thick. Ensure that the pastry is no thicker than 2mm, or it may be undercooked and soggy. Place the pastry rounds on a lightly floured tray and freeze for 5 minutes. When you roll puff pastry thinly, it will become warm, elastic and more difficult to handle. Resting it in the fridge or freezer allows it to relax, cool down and firm up; it will then be very easy to cut.
To prepare the tart bases continued:
Transfer the pastry rounds to a peel or flat tray lined with greaseproof paper. Trim to neat 16cm discs, using a sharp knife and a plate as a guide. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the pastry about 1cm in from the edge, making a shallow indent to create a border. Place in the fridge and leave to rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the onion:
In a small pan over a low heat, soften the onion in the extra virgin olive oil with the thyme leaves, salt and pepper for about 8 minutes; do not allow the onion to colour. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then set aside to cool.
To prepare for baking:
Preheat the oven to 230ºC/Gas 8. Place a baking stone or baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up. The hot baking stone or tray provides a direct heat which will seal and cook the base of the tart.
To assemble the tarts:
Take the puff pastry rounds out of the fridge. Spread with the onion mixture, within the border, and top with the tomato halves, packing them tightly together and overlapping them slightly. Ensure that the tomatoes and onion mixture are arranged within the border of the puff pastry; otherwise, the sides will not rise up to encase the tomatoes and their wonderful juices. Brush the tomatoes and the edges of the puff pastry with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
To bake the tomato tarts:
Carefully slide the tomato-topped puff pastry rounds onto the preheated baking stone or tray in the oven6 and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the tarts from the oven and distribute the sliced mozzarella and olives over the tomatoes. Bake for a further 2 minutes to melt the mozzarella, then remove and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
To make the pistou:
Plunge the basil into a pan of boiling water and blanch for 3 seconds only, then remove and refresh in cold water; drain well. Purée all the pistou ingredients in a blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge until required, unless using straight away.
To finish and serve:
Garnish the tomato tarts with torn basil and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Spoon over a little of the pistou, if serving, and hand the rest around separately.
The puff pastry rounds can be shaped in advance, placed on a baking sheet, covered and frozen or refrigerated.
THIS RECIPE IS ADAPTED FROM THE BOOK KITCHEN SECRETS
Raymond’s love of delicious food is lifelong. Years of experience have given him a rich store of knowledge and the skill to create fantastic dishes that work time after time. With a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities - and useful tips throughout - this book brings Gallic passion and precision into the home kitchen.