Pastry isn’t just for winter – it can be used to create a deliciously-light summer meal too, writes Ewen Macdonald…
Summer is here again and what better way to celebrate than using produce from that most sunny of climes, the Mediterranean. It is, after all, the world-renowned diet which keeps a vast populace lean, healthy and long of life.
This tart is also the perfect accompaniment to a long, lazy, weekend lunch or fulsome supper dish. Sit back, relax and open a bottle of something fresh and fruity with friends or family and let all the butterflies and bees do all the hard work. The great simplicity and ease of this tart is that the vegetables can be cooked in advance and left to chill, overnight if necessary. With the time-efficient means of shop-bought puff pastry this needn’t be an encumbrance into your leisure time, but merely help celebrate the pleasure of this most unhurried of seasons.
12 small sweet tomatoes
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 large courgette
100g feta cheese
2 teaspoons tomato puree
Cornish sea salt
200g ready rolled puff pastry
Method of cooking
- Chop the onion, peppers and courgette into approx one-inch pieces and place in a large baking dish, then add the small tomatoes and a generous amount of chopped fresh rosemary and the leaves of a few sprigs of thyme, I tend to be a little more cautious with this herb as it can easily overpower other flavours. Another great herb to add is fresh oregano. Add salt and pepper and two teaspoons of tomato puree to thicken up the juice and give the tart a further umami kick; add a good glug of olive oil. If you don’t have fresh herbs, which is a real shame given our mild Cornish climate, you could use some dried Mediterranean herbs instead.
- Bake the fruit and vegetables in the oven at around 180-200 degrees Celsius for around 40 minutes or until soft, tangy and unctuous.
- Roll out the puff pastry on a smooth, dry surface and make a border on the pastry by scoring with a knife two inches from the edge. Then prick the surface of the pastry, inside the border, all over with a fork, this way only the border will rise higher. Blind bake the pastry in the preheated oven, for around 10 minutes to stop the centre becoming soggy when you add the filling. Place your mix of fruit and veg inside the border of the tart and add your olives and feta cheese. An alternative is to add the olives and feta after the tart has cooked.
- The brilliance of the olives is that you can add any kind you choose with added herbs, garlic, chilli, whatever your heart desires, giving an extra pungency and punch to the tart.
- Place back inside the oven and cook until the pastry is golden and crispy, take out and add some further flavouring in the form of fresh herbs such as Italian or Greek basil.
This recipe is a the basic version of this tart – you could pimp it with aubergine, mushrooms, artichoke or fennel. You could of course also add some salami or chorizo if you’re missing out on your meat fix. Fresh chilli, cumin, or harissa paste could be used to give it a more North African/Middle Eastern flavour. If you wish to use fresh garlic with this recipe I would add it after the tomatoes have released their juices, that way it will reduce the chances of it burning and becoming acrid.
A wonderful condiment to this tart is some Greek yogurt with salt and pepper, a twist of lemon and some fresh mint added.