Tomato and Pesto Tarts
I have always been a sucker for anything cooked in, or with, puff pastry. These deep tarts are topped with the concentrated flavour of sweet tomatoes and the kick of a punchy pesto. Serve with peppery watercress. If you like, just make smaller individual ones as snacks for your hungry hordes.
Makes 4 tarts*
- 500g block puff pastry (all-butter, if possible)
- plain flour, for dusting
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 8 plum tomatoes, sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g watercress
- 10ml peppery olive oil
* 1 each as a starter
Prep the pastry
Heat the oven to 220°C/gas 7. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
On a lightly floured worktop, roll the puff pastry out until it is about 2cm thick. You will need to cut four circular discs from the pastry so you need to find a small plate or saucer that’s about 16cm in diameter to use as a template. Place the plate over the pastry and run a sharp knife around the edge to cut out the first disc. Repeat until you have four.
Now you need to lightly score a margin about 1.5–2cm in from the edge of the pastry discs, so find a smaller plate or bowl that you can use as a template. Place the smaller plate in the centre of each pastry disc and lightly run a sharp knife around the edge, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Lift the disks onto the baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg. With a fork, prick the inner circle but not the outer edge – this will stop the pastry from rising in the middle but will allow the outer edge of the tart to rise up.
Build the tarts
Take a good amount of the pesto and spread it over the inner circle of each tart. Place the tops and bottoms of the tomatoes in the centre of the tarts, then start to lay the slices on top of the pesto so they overlap and create a swirl effect – it should look a bit like a Catherine wheel. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the tarts in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until well risen and coloured. Mix the watercress with the olive oil and serve with the tarts.
Cut out pastry discs, stack them between layers of cling film and keep them in the freezer – ready in case of an emergency! Just take them out of the freezer 10 minutes before you want to cook them, then make the tarts and bake as above.