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Recipe  •  30 March 2021

 

French tomato tart

I created my first version of this tart when I was living in France with Douglas for a couple of months, relishing the crispy pastry, creamy cheese, juicy flavourful tomatoes, fresh herbs and spicy cracked pepper. Back then I used a lovely soft salty white French cheese riddled with herbs and garlic. Naturally, I’ve created a new version of this, and it’s still amazingly good.

Only use big tomatoes if they’re in season — red andripe and full of flavour. Otherwise, use a heap of ripe cherry tomatoes.This magnificent dish can be served hot, warm or cold, for breakfast,brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s perfect for a shared table, a picnic or alight meal served al fresco with a fresh salad and a glass of chilled rosé.Oh là là, take me there!

PREP 20 minutes COOK 35 minutes SERVES 4–6

HERBY CHEESE SPREAD

1 cup raw cashews (or use tofu; see tips)
¼ cup water
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp choppedfresh)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp finely ground black or white pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsleyand chives
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage and thyme (or ½ tsp each dried;optional), plus extra to serve

TART

1kg ripe juicy tomatoes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
250g shallots, peeled and halved
big pinch salt
big pinch sugar
350g dairy-free puff pastry
¼ cup canned chickpea liquid (aquafaba), for brushing

TO MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE

Use a GF pastry and mustard.

TIPS+

If you prefer, you can use 300g tofu for the cheese instead of the cashews. It’s easier to make in afood processor, but it won’t bequite as creamy.

METHOD

Place the cashews for the cheese spread in a heatproof bowl or jug and cover with just-boiled water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes or so, then rinse.

Slice the tomatoes for the tart about 5mm thick and lay on a couple of layers of paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and press another couple of paper towels on top (or you can use a clean tea towel for this if it’s nice and absorbent). Leave for 10 minutes or so.

Place the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallots along with the salt and sugar and cook, stirring every now and then, for 15–20 minutes until golden and starting to caramelise. Remove from the heat.

Place the drained cashews in a food processor or high-speed blender along with the other cheese spread ingredients except the fresh herbs,and process until smooth. It may take a while, so be patient and keep scraping down the sides. You could also do this with a stick blender. Stir the herbs through at the end.

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan-bake (or 200°C regular bake, but fan-bake is better for pastry) and set a rack in the lower half of the oven.

If your pastry is pre-rolled, lay it on baking paper on a baking tray. Otherwise, roll it out to 3–4mm thick. Prick all over with a fork. Lightly moisten the edges with water and fold the edges over by 1–2cm, pressing down hard to crimp all along with your index finger.

Spread the base of the pastry with the cheese. Top with the shallots and tomato slices. Season with cracked pepper, extra fresh herbs and a little more salt.

Brush the edges of the pastry generously with the aquafaba. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and everything is looking lovely and caramelised. Leave it in longer if not — the pastry should be nice and crispy, even underneath.

Keeps well for a day or so at room temperature or in the fridge.

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