Tomato and ricotta puff pastry tart

At this time of year tomatoes are bursting with juice and packed full of flavour so it’s the ideal season to make the most of them. Great tasting tomatoes need little done to them in order to bring out their best so this tomato and ricotta tart is a perfect way to enjoy them. I also have it on good authority that any leftovers are ideal for an easy lunch the next day!

Supermarkets and farmer’s markets are making it easier and easier to get hold of heirloom (heritage) varieties so get shopping and choose your favourites. I have used yellow and red tomatoes in order to add extra colour to the tart but use whatever tomatoes you can find and like.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
Selection of tomatoes- approx. 300g
200g ricotta
Fresh basil and oregano
Salt and pepper
1 egg- beaten

1. Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the pastry packet as these can sometimes differ. About ten minutes before you want to make the tart, remove the pastry from the fridge and then roll out. Take a small dining plate and place it upside down on the pastry. Carefully cut around it. Take a small knife and lightly run the blade about 1cm from the edge of the sheet to form a border.

2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, torn fresh basil and oregano (if you can find it) and season well. If you can’t find fresh oregano then you can use a little dried oregano instead but go easy on it. Spoon the ricotta mix on the pastry sheet and spread evenly using the back of a spoon; leave the border clear of the cheese otherwise it won’t puff up.

3. Cut the tomatoes into rounds and arrange on the tart base. When ready to cook, carefully brush a little beaten egg on the border of the tart and bake for around 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Serve with a side salad and buttered new potatoes.

Tomato and ricotta tart- a perfect way to enjoy the best of the season’s produce!

 

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Caramelised balsamic shallot tarte tatin

If you think of a tarte tatin, people will conjure up images of deliciously sweet and syrupy apple desserts however think again! This tarte tatin is savoury, moreish and there’s not a single apple in sight. I have previously made an onion tarte tatin however you just can’t beat the softeness of the shallot with its gentle flavour which goes perfectly with the tartness of the balsamic and the savouriness of the pastry. Balsamic and thyme is a match made in heaven so I have included this in the caramel and also sprinkled some more leaves over the top to finish. I used normal shallots however banana shallot will also work well.

Readymade puff pastry sheets tend to be quite large and may need cutting down. You will need to make sure the pastry round is slightly larger than the pan itself so the pastry can be tucked in snuggly.

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Ingredients- makes one tart which serves 2 for dinner
400g shallots
25g butter
1 tbsp balsamic
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 premade puff pastry sheet

1. Double check the instructions on the puff pastry you buy but otherwise preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for action shortly. In the meantime, boil a kettle of water and pour into a heat proof bowl that is large enough to hold the shallots. Soak the shallots for 10 minutes before removing, allowing to cool and then peeling them. Carefully cut the shallots in half from end to end so they stay together as best as they can and set aside.

2. Take a frying pan that is around 22cm in diameter. Heat the butter, sugar and balsamic vinegar along with the leaves from several fresh thyme sprigs. Season lightly. Place the shallots cut side down in the pan. Cook on the hob over a low to medium heat until the shallots start to soften which will take around 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to cook them on a high heat otherwise the balsamic mixture will burn. You will find the balsamic reduces down a bit which is what you want.

3. Take the puff pastry sheet and gently lay it across the top of the shallots. Tuck the sides in so they hug the shallots and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. You can tell if it needs a little longer as pastry may look paler in places. When cooked, remove the pan from the oven and get ready to turn it out. Lay a board or serving plate across the top of the pan and turn it over. If the pastry needs a little hand then use a knife and run it around the edge to help loosen it. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pan or with the hot juices. If a shallot or two is stuck to the bottom of the pan, gently coax it off and pop back in its rightful place. Serve with a simple salad.

Balsamic and thyme shallot tart tatin- a savoury twist on a French classic!