Yay! It’s summer! Really! Don’t be fooled by the changeable and frequently chilly weather….. It’s time to get outside and enjoy all the British warm season has to offer…..
And this is the perfect summer tart to celebrate…… Cheerful, vibrant, full of the rich, sweet, colourful flavours of the Mediterranean….. This tart sings of sun, sea, and perfectly sultry, cicada-accompanied evenings.
When Sainsbury’s asked me to join their latest ‘Get Summer Started’ celebrations (as part of their Live Well For Less Campaign) and to think of great food ideas to help get the party going, this tart was my spontaneous response…… I mean…… look at it…… Is there anything that you see that doesn’t shout ‘Summer’ from the rooftops?
Made with my favourite and most reliable almond pastry, the case is short, crisp, light and full of the wonderful nutritional properties that almonds offer. As is the way with most gluten free pastry, it doesn’t always roll perfectly-enough to get into the tin without an occasional crack or snag, but it is amazingly forgiving in that it ‘patches’ and seals like new and never gives you a soggy bottom!
The pastry case is layered with good stuff….. starting with a little mild Italian Mozzerella, a handful of deep green iron-filled baby spinach leaves and some fried red onions and garlic. Next comes the most incredibly beautiful layer of balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes and roasted sweet baby peppers.
I am in love with roasted vegetables and fruit right now…. The roasting process reduces the liquid content releasing the most amazingly intense flavours you can imagine…… taking the humble tomato, pepper (or anything else you choose) to a new and sensorily exquisite level. A good drizzle of high quality Balsamic (Sainsbury’s have a fantastic range, but it really is worth getting the best you can afford….. I always use a Modena balsamic vinegar, preferably aged), adds an extra depth and slightly sticky richness which enhances the explosion of flavours even further.
Sprinkled with fresh leaves of oregano and sprigs of thyme which fill your head with the pungent aroma of the Greek and Italian mountains and topped with delicate little chunks of chewy Cypriot Halloumi cheese which bake to a salty, crispy edge, this tart will transport your senses to the most magical, sun-kissed Mediterranean climes……
Add in a grind of fresh black peppercorns for a warming peppery bite…… How good does that sound? Food which is simple yet delicious…… rustic yet sophisticated….
Each mouthful has a careful balance of textures……. The crunch of pastry….. The slight ‘squeak’ that comes only from Halloumi…. The softness of roasted vegetables. The tomatoes (which have been roasted whole) release their juicy interior with every bite, exciting the taste buds with a liquid burst full of fresh summer garden sweetness.
This tart can be made as one large pie (perfect for a family get together) or as individual, or even mini tarts, which look as pretty as they are tempting on any summer garden party table. So what are you waiting for? This is exactly what you need to get summer started!
I am also sharing these amazing tarts with the following :
Mediterranean Summer Tart (makes 1 x 25 cm/10 inch tart or 5 x 10 cm/4 inch individual tarts)
Ingredients – Almond Pastry
50g corn flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
40g ground almonds
110g cold butter (cut into small cubes)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water
Mediterranean Tart Filling
Method – Pastry
- Weigh and sieve the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir together with the ground almonds.
- Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the crumb mixture.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the crumb mixture using a table knife until it begins to clump together.
- Bring the dough together with your hands and press into a ball. Knead very briefly to ensure the ingredients are fully amalgamated.
- Roll out the pastry straight away (do not chill in the fridge), using a liberal sprinkling of corn flour on the work surface and rolling pin to prevent any sticking. If you are making one large tart, roll all the pastry in one go. If you are making smaller tarts, cut pieces of pastry dough to roll one tin at a time.
- Carefully lay the rolled pastry over the tin(s) with the support of the rolling pin. Ease into the base(s), gently moulding into the sides of the tin(s).
- Trim the pastry edge flush with the top of the tin(s), using a sharp knife.
- If there are any cracks or holes in the rolled pastry base, use the trimmed remains to ‘repair’. – Roll and cut to size, and using cold water, dampen both the area around the crack/hole and the down-side of the ‘patch’ and gently press together, smoothing the edges with a finger dipped in water to seal and tidy.
- Place the prepared flan pastry in the fridge for half an hour to chill prior to baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Scrunch and then flatten a piece of baking paper large enough to lay inside the flan base and base-fill the pastry case with baking beans.
- When the oven has reached temperature, blind-bake the pastry with the baking beans for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 5 to 8 minutes, being careful not to let the pastry brown too much.
- When the pastry cases are cooked remove from the oven and set aside to cool until ready to use.
Method – Tart Filling
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6 and brush the base of a roasting tin with olive oil.
- Arrange the whole cherry tomatoes and cut peppers in the roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the peppers are beginning to brown nicely at the edges, then remove from the oven and set aside in the dish to cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, gently fry the onion and then the garlic (separately) in a little olive oil until soft and beginning to caramelise. Set aside until ready to put the tart together.
- To put the tart together : take the baked tart cases and sprinkle a fine layer of Mozzarella in the bottom.
- Place a layer of spinach on top of the cheese, followed by a scattering of the onions and garlic.
- Next, arrange the roasted tomatoes and peppers in a layer and top these with a scattering of Halloumi cheese cubes.
- Finally, put a handful of drops of balsamic vinegar across the top, scatter with fresh herbs and add a good grind of black pepper.
- Place the tart(s) back in the oven at 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the edges of the Halloumi cheese tinge brown.
- Remove and enjoy in the garden with cold glass of summery sparkling wine.