This year so many people invested time in their gardens as we all spent more time at home during lockdown. They are now harvesting what they sowed and an abundance of tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers are appearing.
I stuck to herbs and salad leaves, relying on my parents’ extensive experience to provide the more fiddly time consuming vegetables. Having had a polytunnel on an allotment a few years ago, I know that I don’t have the patience for thinning lettuce or carefully supporting tomatoes with bamboo. Neither do my kids, so we grew radish and some carrots too, and they ate them in the garden as they were picked.
If I could be a borage farmer, I would. Having introduced borage to the garden a few years ago I’m now fighting back a forest of incredibly insistent star shaped blue flowers and fuzzy leaves that spread easily. The bees adore them though, so I’m keeping one patch just for them.
I ate a tomato tart, like the one I am sharing my recipe for today, in France many years ago. I bought it from a large indoor market. I love this version because it showcases gorgeous seasonal tomatoes. The garlic, herb, tomato and cheese combination is always a winner. This is also very nice when made as individual tarts for lunch.
You can layer thin rounds of courgette on top and drizzle with oil or fill it with wedges of red onion and black olives. Tarragon with its delicate aniseed flavour is really good with this, if you can get it. Thyme, parsley, oregano or chives are all excellent too.
If you’re not a fan of puff pastry then you can make your own shortcrust pastry shell and blindbake it before filling with the cheese mix. I do find shop-bought puff pastry handy to have in the freezer for making last minute desserts, layering on seasonal fruits and cream, for savoury tarts like this, or for topping a beef or chicken pie.
Another way to use up a tomato glut is to make your own passata. Last year I blended lots of raw ripe tomatoes in the food processor, passed them through a sieve and then bottled them – pure summer for use later in the year. You can freeze the sieved tomato pulp in glass jars, just leave space at the top for it to expand and defrost gently at room temperature.
1 sheet puff pastry
200g cream cheese
40g finely grated Parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh soft herbs (tarragon,thyme, oregano or chives)
1 egg, whisked for egg wash
Salt and pepper
1 Preheat your oven to 220 degrees. Roll the pastry sheet out onto a large tray. Draw a border around the edges using a sharp knife, about an inch the whole way round.
2 Mix the cream cheese, Parmesan, herbs, garlic, a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper together. Spread this cheese mix onto the pastry, inside the border.
3 Slice the tomatoes thickly and lay them onto a piece of paper towel. Sprinkle them with salt and leave for 10 minutes to release excess liquid. Pat dry with a paper towel so that your tart will not be soggy.
4 Lay the tomato slices on top of the cream cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash.
5 Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes till the pastry is puffed up and golden and the tomatoes are roasted. Serve warm or at room temperature with a big green salad.