Tomato and Pesto Tarts

Sad news about the Le Caprice closing. It was a favourite for years; I really loved that restaurant. During the Mark Hix years, I regularly ordered his tomato and basil galette. The pastry base for those little tarts was thin and elegant, topped with neat slices of peeled tomato scattered with a few basil leaves. It inspired this version, a chunkier relative that’s perfect for supper rather than as a starter. It too has a crisp, flaky pastry base but spread with a thick layer of pesto before the tomatoes are added. Rather than raw, peeled tomatoes, I like squishy roast tomato halves, something I often have at the ready in the fridge so the tart becomes a quick assembly job. The tarts can be any shape and size you like from small little tarts to surround with salad – rocket would be particularly good – to one large tart.

Serves 2

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 25 min

14 medium-size tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

375g ready rolled puff pastry

for the pesto:

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp toasted pine kernels

50g basil

7 best olive oil

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Turn the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Halve through their middles and swipe away the skin. Lay out on a shallow foil-lined baking tray/sheet. Paint the cut surfaces with a little oil, season with salt and pepper. Place on a bottom shelf in the oven. Cut two 15cm circles from the pastry using a small plate to guide you. Paint one side liberally with olive oil and flip it over onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Prick the un-oiled surface all over with the tines of a fork then oil this surface as before. When the oven is up to temperature, place on a top shelf and cook for 10-15 minutes until the surface is brown and semi-risen. Use an egg slice to flip the pastry disc so the still flabby underside is uppermost. Press down to flatten and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until flaky and golden. Flatten the now thoroughly cooked pastry again if necessary. Rest on a cake tray to cool. Check the tomatoes are nicely squishy and remove to cool. Meanwhile make the pesto. Peel the garlic. Set aside about 10 small basil leaves and place the rest in the bowl of a food processor with the pine kernels, garlic and 1 tbsp oil. Blitz. When evenly chopped, with the motor still running, gradually add the olive oil and continue until nicely amalgamated, thick but slack. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan to thicken. Using about 2 tbsp pesto per tart, spread thickly. Cover with tomato halves, nudging them up closely. Strew with the reserved basil leaves and eat.