Tomato and tapenade tart
The most perfect Provençal-style summer tart from Alex Jackson's evocative book Sardine, named after his London restaurant which has now sadly closed.
Alex writees: This tart is extremely simple. Given the right tomatoes, it’s a highlight of the summer table. At Sardine, we wait until the heavy, deep-coloured Amalfi bull’s heart tomatoes are in season and throw over some datterini or small plum tomatoes to fill in the gaps. A sprinkling of fragrant basil at the end is essential, as well as a drizzle of your best olive oil. Nyons olives make amazing tapenade, but any soft black olives will do nicely.
Tomato & Tapenade Tart
Makes 1 large tart (enough for 4 people for lunch or lots of small squares for a party)
For the tart:
4 bull’s heart tomatoes
1 x 500-g/1lb 2-oz block of pre-rolled puff pastry
A handful of small Italian plum tomatoes, red and yellow if possible
1 bunch of basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tapenade:
100g/3 1⁄2oz black olives, drained of any brine or oil and pitted
1⁄8 garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a fine paste
1⁄2 tsp picked thyme leaves
1 salted anchovy fillet, washed and patted dry
1 tsp salted capers, soaked well, washed and drained
1 tsp brandy
4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
First, slice the bull’s heart tomatoes into thick 1-cm/1⁄2-inch rounds. Transfer to a sieve (strainer) suspended over a bowl and season well with salt. Leave the tomatoes for a good half hour to allow the juices to drip into the bowl. This will prevent your pastry becoming soggy if the tomatoes hold a lot of juice.
To make the tapenade, put all the dry ingredients in a blender. Blitz well.
Add the wet ingredients and blitz further until everything is fully incorporated.
The tapenade should be very smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Next, roll out – or simply unfurl, if pre-rolled – the pastry to a rectangle to fit your largest, flat, heavy-based baking tray. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to the same size, then place the pastry on top. Score a 2-cm/3⁄4-inch border all around the edges of the pastry. This pastry border will puff up around the filling.
Put the baking tray (without the pastry) in the oven to pre-heat for 10 minutes.
To assemble the tart, top the pastry inside the scored border with a generous smearing of tapenade. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a single layer over the tapenade. Halve the small tomatoes, season with salt, and use them to fill any gaps. Drizzle the tart filling with olive oil and grind over some black pepper.
Remove the hot tray from the oven, slide in the tart on the parchment paper and return the tray to the oven. Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the pastry borders are puffed and crisp, the base is a light golden brown (lift the tart tentatively with a spatula to check) and the tomatoes are soft, squidgy and just started to take on a little colour.
Remove the tart from the oven, season lightly with a little flaky sea salt and black pepper, and scatter over the torn basil leaves. Allow the tart to cool on its tray, then slice into squares while still just warm. Drizzle with your best olive oil before serving.
What to drink: a Provençal rosé would be the obvious match with this summery tart but you could also enjoy a crisp white like a Vermentino or a Picpoul de Pinet.
Extracted from Sardine: Simple seasonal Provençal cooking by Alex Jackson, published by Pavilion Books. Photograph © Matt Russell
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