This makes a wonderful starter, simple to do, pop it into the oven a little while after the guests arrive and away you go.
Ingredients, serves 4:
• 4 plum tomatoes
• EV Olive oil
• 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
• Puff pastry, ready rolled if available.
• Fresh basil leaves (2 whole leaves per person and a similar number again)
• 250g mascarpone cheese
And then you need to:
Slice the tomatoes into two lengthways.
Top tip here: if you look at the stalk end of a plum tomato you will see that it has two small mounds and two small dips. If you slice the tomato down through the mounds it will open up all the lovely flesh and pips, if you slice down through the troughs it will open up showing only the whitish pith.
In a small dish place the tomatoes cut side up, sprinkle with a pinch of coarse sea salt, drizzle about 2 tbsp EV olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Pop into oven heated to 160C/325F and leave for about 45 mins.
Finely chop half of the basil and stir it into the mascarpone. Taking two dessert spoons make the mascarpone into ‘quenelles’ (small rugby-ball shaped dumpling), one per person.
Roll out the pastry (better still use a ready rolled sheet!) until about the thickness of about 2 or 3mm and with a small bowl or pastry cutter cut out circles (one per person) about 10 cm in diameter. Place them on a lightly oiled baking tray and with a small sharp knife lightly score a line 1 cm in from the edge all the way around, forming a sort of border.
If you have some pastry left over and want to make ‘lids’ for the tarts then feel free but bake them on a separate baking tray.
Place two fresh basil leaves on each pastry circle, place two of the roasted tomatoes on top of the basil, making sure they are inside of the lightly scored line. Put the tray in the oven at 175C/350F for about 12-15 mins, keep an eye on them.
When the pastry has risen and has turned golden remove from the oven. Carefully remove the tarts from the tray and place on plates. Place 1 quenelle of mascarpone on top of each feuillete and serve immediately.
I normally serve this with a few dressed roquette or manche (lambs lettuce) leaves to give a bit of colour.
There are lots of alternatives you could play with. For example substitute mascarpone for goats cheese is excellent (though if you do this cook the goats cheese, put it on top of the tomato tart before putting them in the oven).
Also a little smear of pesto on the pastry before adding the roasted tomatoes is lovely.