It's November, I know that. And I have stood on my soap box and loudly (and frequently) proclaimed the virtues of eating fresh vegetable in season and from local sources. I swear - and our friend Sam is my independent witness - that I made this dish just last week. With local and sustainably grown tomatoes. (You can ripen tomatoes until January, you know.) And if you'll allow me to get back on that soap box for just another brief moment, I will tell you that this is quite possibly the best tomato dish I have ever tasted, largely because the tomatoes were locally grown. It's simple and like all simple things it relies on the best and freshest ingredients. And the fact that this is probably the last time I'll taste fresh tomatoes (bar the occasional guilty indulgence) until next June at least, it had an emotional whammy that couldn't be beat. My mouth is watering just remembering it. I made it once, and then I made it again two days later and now all my tomatoes are gone, all gone. But I will remember this tart in June and we will start our love affair all over again.
Puff pastry. Tomatoes. Mustard. Cheese. It's that simple.
(Barrett, are you listening? For once, it's vegetarian too!)
I am grateful to Message, a group of Anglophone parents in Paris, for this recipe. Although I have left Paris in body, you'll see that I'm still lingering there in spirit in many ways and this is one of the benefits. (As is the recipe for Karena's Beef Rendang which I may have to write up one of these days: great for a crock pot and a crowd. But I digress.) So thank you to Jennie of Message for this great recipe. I have seen her comment on it several times on the members-only site and now that I have tried it I am eternally indebted. Yum.
A Tomato Tart To Die For (Serves one. Okay, really three or four as a starter, but you won't want to share.)
Jennie has written that even her French friends and in-laws adore this tart and I can well believe it. Her recipe called for fresh basil, but as I didn't have any I used fresh thyme and it was gorgeous. The next time, I dropped the thyme and hid some finely chopped spring onions under the tomatoes. Heaven.
1 puff pastry
2-3 heaping Tbs of good mustard (I use Maille)
1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes or a few ripe normal tomatoes: any variety providing they are ripe to the point of sweetness to make you swoon
1-2 Tbs fresh basil OR thyme OR spring onions (but not all three)
1 to 1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheese (gruyère or sharp cheddar, or a combination of Red Leciester, Cheddar and Wensledale if you really want to get fancy)
Roll out your puff pastry. With a dull knife, trace a line about a centimeter from the edge of the pastry all the way around. This will make your crust. Spread the mustard generously on the pastry. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Sprinkle with spring onions (if that is the optional seasoning you have chosen). Lay the tomatoes gently over the cheese, overlapping slightly so that no part of the tart will be untouched by its loveliness. Top with thyme or basil if you have opted for one of them as a seasoning.
Bake according to the instructions on the puff pastry box, which probably will be at 220C for 25 minutes or so. Don't be surprised if one corner of the pastry puffs up energetically and the tomatoes slide down to the center. Just pierce that puff when you remove the tart from the oven and pull the tomatoes back into place with a fork. It will still look, smell and (most importantly) taste gorgeous. Devour. Have a fork handy to poke any other hands that want to take the last piece.