I love spending the day in the kitchen. This tart was a multi-stage project and each of those stages was fun. (Today I also made a batch of what were meant to be chocolate orange cookies, because you should eat oranges when you have a cold, but they came out of the oven looking like cookies but tasting like cake. My husband loves both cake and cookies and thinks that they’re great and should be called “cakies”, but I’m still a bit dubious. Still, they contain vitamin C so I will continue to eat them for health purposes. But they aren’t the point of this post.)
Anyway, this tart. You can do it the fast way or the slow way, depending on time and inclination. I had both, so I made the puff pastry and the pesto from scratch. The puff pastry I made using half of Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, which comes to 350g of pastry. Don’t be scared to make your own pastry! Speaking from limited experience, it’s really not that hard. The worst that happens tends to be that overworked puff pastry comes out as shortcrust, which is just as delicious, so have a go sometime.
If you don’t like the sound of making pastry, how about pesto? I love growing basil and making pesto. Growing basil I have down to something of an art. The trick is to put in it as much sun as possible, and to water it about 100ml whenever the leaves feel limp. Last year I grew a basil plant about 3 feet tall and I was very proud of it, but sadly my friends and family formed an emotional attachment to the thing and refused to let me harvest and eat it. And then it got infested with whitefly and died. Yes, I hold a grudge. Now I harvest the plants when they’re smaller (about 1/2 months in) to make the loss easier for them to bear. I don’t really have a recipe that I stick to when it comes to the pesto making bit, so it comes out differently each time, which I like. Generally, I harvest the plant (probably 100g), and blend the leaves with a clove of crushed garlic, about 30g grated vegetarian parmesan, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce depending on my needs.
Ingredients for the tart:
350g puff pastry
2 tbsp pesto
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
60g half-fat mozzarella, roughly sliced
5-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
a little grated parmesan (optional)
Takes about 45 minutes to make
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, and fold over the edges to make a border about 1cm thick. Prick with a fork and blind bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the pastry has puffed in the centre and has gone a pale golden colour. In the meantime, prep the vegetables and the cheese. Remove from the oven and gently flatten the centre using a fork.
Stage two: Lay out the pieces of mozzarella over the centre of the tart, and then spread over the pesto. Scatter the vegetables over the top, season, and finally sprinkle on the parmesan.
Stage three: Pop it in the oven for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Serve with salad. This dish works really well cold, too!