Some recipes are more simple than they seem on paper- or more complicated that they look in the picture. This recipe is both. It’s wonderfully simple but there are several parts to it- usually a big turn the page and move on implication for me. But don’t walk away just yet- at least let me try to convince you that this recipe is worth more than a glance.
Firstly, you will need to make the pastry-or you can buy perfectly good pastry these days in the supermarket so if the thought of making pastry makes you jittery outsource this to your local shop. It need not be whole grain and puff pastry will work just fine.
Secondly, you will need to slow cook tomatoes in the oven- which I won’t lie, takes time- but so little effort for such magnificent results. I recommend tripling the batch and using the remaining tomatoes in salads, soups, stews or even just on their own.
Lastly, you will need to caramelise onions- which can be done faster than you think and again I would make a double or triple batch and use the remaining onions for soups, pizzas, sandwiches or freeze them.
All of a sudden a seemingly long-winded recipe becomes as simple as it looks. Pastry, slow roasted tomatoes, caramelised onions, goats cheese and basil- a winning combination. If there was speed dating for food- these guys would be fighting over each other at the end of the night.
And now I sense an imminent tantrum erupting over working with pastry but take your 10 breaths and chill because this requires such minimal effort that I might even trust Don to have a go. This is the man who has not made me a single great cup of tea in over three years of dating. This is an upside down tart which means that you need not fret about neatly lining a tart tin, soggy pastry or blind baking- working with pastry does not get simpler than this, my friends.
Whole grain tomato tart
The pastry recipe was taken from Clotilde Dusoulier’s cookbook, swapping the plain flour for whole wheat pastry flour. It makes the perfect amount for a 9-10 inch tart but you could easily double the recipe and store half a batch in the freezer. I have written the recipe in the order it should be done if you are making it in one day- however, all of the elements can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for up to a week before you use them
Difficulty: perhaps the easiest way of making a tart
Diet Facts: wholesome but pastry nevertheless
For the pastry (alternatively use store bought pastry- shortcrust or puff pastry will both work well)
185g/ 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour or plain flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
110g/8 tbsp chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
ice cold water
For the tomatoes
10 on the vine tomatoes, cut in half
few sprigs of thyme
For the onions
1 tbsp olive oil (or olive oil spray)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
For the tart
225g/8oz rindless goats cheese (or ricotta) at room temperature
few basil leaves, to garnish
1 egg, lightly beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
For the tomatoes
1/ Firstly, slow roast the tomatoes by setting your oven to 110C/225F/Gas 1. Lay your sliced tomatoes cut side up on a large tray, sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and strew with thyme leaves. Place in the oven until the tomatoes have shriveled up and are mostly dried-up in the centre. You still want them to have a bit of juice. Ideally you would leave the tomatoes in the oven for 5-8 hours (if its a convection/fan oven it will be faster) but you can get away with 2-3 hours if you are really pressed for time- just turn the oven up a notch and keep an eye on them.
For the pastry
1/ Place the flour, salt and butter in a small food processor and pulse to blend the flour and butter together- it will resemble breadcrumbs.
2/ Add half of the egg and pulse again for a few seconds until it forms nuggets of dough. At this point you want to feel the dough. If it is soft, without too many dry bits then you can remove it from the processor at this point. If it still looks very dry and had not formed soft nuggets, add the remaining egg and pulse again for a few seconds, check again and if it still seems dry, add a teaspoon of ice water. If you add too much egg/water add more flour in the processor- do not try to add by hand. The less you work the pastry the more tender and pliable it will be. I found that I only needed 1/2 and egg and no water but all flour is different.
3/ Once you have a soft dough, bring it together gently into a round disk on a flat surface- ideally with cold, dry hands! Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4/ On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into a 10-11 inch circle. The best way to do this is to bash the dough with the rolling pin evenly in one direction, turn it a quarter turn and bash it again the other way, repeat- this helps for a more evenly rolled dough, helps keep the circular shape, stops it from getting to warm and prevents you from over-working the dough.
5/ Place on a baking tray, cover and chill for 10 minutes or until you are ready to assemble the tart. If you chill it for longer than 10 minutes then you will need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before you use it.
For the onions
1/ In a large frying pan (non-stick is fine) heat the oil over a medium-low heat and toss in the onions. Cover the pan and let the onions steam, stirring occasionally until soft (about 10 minutes).
2/ Remove the cover and turn the heat up to medium-high, stir with a wooden spoon every minute or so, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any areas that are sticking. Every so often add a tablespoon or so of water to help prevent too much sticking (which will cause the onions to burn). You want to cook the onions until they have gone a lovely golden colour and appear sticky. You can speed up the process by adding a teaspoon of sugar but it will still take about 20 minutes (longer if you have more onions in the pan). Add the garlic if you are using a minute before you take the onions off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the tart
1/ Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Brush your tart tin with oil. Lay the tomatoes cut side down evenly in the bottom of the pan in one layer. Top with your caramelised onions in an even layer.
2/ Beat your goats cheese until soft (if you are using ricotta you will need to season it or add some grated parmesan for extra flavour). Carefully spread the cheese over the onions as evenly as possible.
3/ Lay your pastry over the top of the tart and tuck the edges into the tart tin- if you have more than a couple of centimeters (one inch) of dough around the sides, trim it off with a pairing knife before tucking in the edges. Brush with the lightly beaten egg, using a pastry brush and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and appears crispy (it should feel sandy when you touch it). Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning it out upside down on a large plate. Garnish with the basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.