If you read the post immediately preceding this one you will now that, for the month of November, I am on a sort-of-a-detox and a sort-of-a-diet (hereinafter known as a double SOAD). Strangely since I started said double SOAD food hasn’t dominated my thoughts nor have I obsessed for a nano-second about some mega-meal I might eat on the first of December when I have finished the double SOAD.
I think that’s because even though the double SOAD I cobbled together might sound restrictive it actually isn’t. And also because I believe that since I cut back my caffeine intake and cut alcohol and red meat (temporarily) from my diet my taste buds have become a little sharper to the extent that a humble bowl of grated apple with chopped almonds and topped with plain yogurt tastes sublime. I am still eating fish and chicken but also trying to incorporate more vegetarian options into my diet – one of these is the tomatoe and chilli tart that you see in the image above
I first tasted this tart, many years ago, in my very good friend A’s house and she kindly sent on the recipe which I subsequently mislaid. Fortunately, because I enjoyed it so much, I had scribbled down the ingredients on a scrap of paper when I was staying with her and reading the ingredient list jogged my memory about the method. I think the original recipe is an Antonio Carluccio one. I normally bake my pastry blind but as my oven needs fixing – the dial sticks at 160°C when I turn it on (note to self: you really, really need to get this fixed) I experimented with a long cooking time and no baking blind but I found the pastry a bit too soggy; next time I would bake the pastry case blind so I have included that in the method below. Here’s the recipe; you may baulk at the mini mountain of tomatoes required but they are all needed.
200g plain flour
100g butter chopped into small pieces
100g grated parmesan
1 large egg beaten with a tablespoon of water
1000g cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli (seeds remove) chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic mashed (using the blade of a knife) with some salt to a paste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard – use less if you prefer.
A little beaten egg for sealing the pastry case.
1. Make the pastry by putting the flour and the grated cheese into the bowl of a food processor and blitz briefly, then add the chopped butter and blitz again until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and pulse until the pastry begins to come together – empty the mix into a bowl and use your hands to bring it fully together. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate it for at least half an hour.
2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temperature. It’s a very difficult pastry to roll so it is easier to break off small chunks and use your fingers to mould each small piece into a 26 cm flan tin until the bottom and sides are full covered (don’t worry about the lumpy look of the pastry). Put the pastry shell in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Remove the pastry case from the fridge brush it with some beaten egg and bake it blind for 15 minutes at 190° C.
4. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme and put these plus the tomatoes, the olive oil, the chopped chilli and the crushed garlic into a large bowl. Stir a few times to mix everything together but go gently so as not to break the tomatoes. .
5. Spread the mustard over the base of the half-cooked pastry case then tip in the tomatoe mix and pop the tart in an oven that has been reduced to 150°C. Cook for one hour – keep an eye on it as you may need to cover it loosely with foil if the pasty is browning too much.
The tart is nice served with a tossed green salad. Enjoy!