Tomato and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Semi-dried tomatoes, sold in the deli section of most Australian supermarkets, were the inspiration for this colourful recipe.

If you can’t buy them where you live make your own by slicing some Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and putting them on a rack, cut side up, over a shallow tray in a low oven (about 140°c), sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and sugar, for 3-4 hours. When they look somewhat shrivelled and semi-dried remove and drizzle with a little olive oil. You don’t want too much moisture left in them or the tart will be soggy.

As we ate this delicious tart we agreed that toasted pine nuts would be a good additional garnish for next time.

1 sheet bought puff pastry
2 large onions, sliced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp sugar
good pinch of salt
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
300g semi-dried tomatoes from the supermarket Deli
110g soft goat’s cheese
To garnish:
Fresh basil leaves
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Roll out pastry and use to line a large metal tart tin. Prick all over with a fork then bake blind (without filling) for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions gently for about 15 minutes or until soft. Add the sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar and continue to cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes longer. Add half the water, stir well then continue cooking, stirring often, until it has evaporated. Repeat with the rest of the water. Turn off heat.

Spread onions over base of tart. Top with tomatoes and arrange the crumbled cheese in between. Bake for 25-30 mins or until pastry is golden brown and the cheese and tomatoes are starting to brown.

Cool tart for 10 minutes, then serve garnished with fresh basil leaves (and pine nuts if using) accompanied by a simple green salad.

Serves 4-6

Substitutes: use feta instead of goat’s cheese

 

Spanish Tomato and Jamon Salad

This colourful salad is perfect for late summer entertaining, when tomatoes are at their best and you may have some in the garden.

Spanish Tomato and Jamon Salad250g baby tomatoes (preferably some red, some yellow)
4 slices Spanish Jamon or Prosciutto
About 16 black olives, stoned if preferred
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Basil and flat leaf parsley to garnish
Dressing:
1 Tbs sherry or red wine vinegar
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Halve tomatoes and arrange on one shallow serving dish or 2 individual plates.

Cut jamon slices into about 4 pieces and arrange in between the tomatoes. Scatter with the olives and onion. Shake dressing ingredients in a jar and drizzle over. Garnish with the torn basil and parsley leaves and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 2 as a starter or 4 as a side dish

Variation: add some cubes of Spanish manchego cheese. Or feta or goat’s cheese.

Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Soup

This soup is quick, easy and satisfying. I invented it one day when I had a friend coming for lunch and one lonely eggplant sitting in the fridge. I just stuck it in the oven and let it cook while I did something else. The final mixing and reheating takes less than 10 minutes.

While the subtle flavour of the eggplant is somewhat overpowered by the tomato, it does provide a nice texture. And the peanut butter, garlic and chilli add an Asian touch to the flavour combination.  I’ve made the recipe with both crunchy and smooth peanut and while they’re both nice I prefer the creamier result you get with the smooth variety. But If you’ve only got crunchy I wouldn’t go out and buy a jar specially.

Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Soup1 large eggplant
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 500g jar tomato sauce for pasta (see note)
1 jar of water (and maybe a bit more)
1 tsp sugar
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
3 Tbs peanut butter
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To serve:
sour cream or thick Greek yoghurt
fresh coriander
fresh bread or toast

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Pierce eggplant a couple of times with a knife, so it doesn’t explode in the oven. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until it feels soft when you squeeze it. Halve eggplant and scrape out the flesh into a food processor, discarding skin.

Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Tip into a saucepan and heat to boiling point. Check seasoning and add a bit more water if necessary to make desired consistency. This will depend on how big your eggplant was.

Ladle into soup bowls and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt and chopped coriander. Serve with fresh Turkish or sourdough bread or toast.

Serves 4

Note: Most pasta sauces weigh about 500g. I used about two thirds of a 700g jar of Woolworths Home Brand Chunky Pasta Sauce.

Tomato Baharat Jam

I’ve always made my own jams and chutneys from fruit we’ve grown or with donations from friends who have a glut. They are so much nicer than bought ones. Sometimes I freeze the fruit and make the preserve later – for example peeled tomatoes for tomato chutney or sliced cumquats for marmalade. Matthew says he married me for my tomato chutney and that running out is considered grounds for divorce. That recipe, which came from my paternal grandmother, clearly formed a crucial part of my dowry!

A recipe for a lovely bright red preserve called Tomato Baharat Jam appeared in a recent edition of Delicious magazine, as an accompaniment to chicken liver pâté. We found that it also goes superbly with cheese – especially brie and cheddar – and ham. I’ve doubled the recipe and cut down a bit on the sugar and I don’t think it’s necessary to discard the pulp and seeds, but you can if you prefer.

This is the first time I’ve made it so I’m not sure how long it will keep without refrigeration. The ratio of sugar to fruit is not high, so I think it will keep for a month or two in a dark cupboard and should be refrigerated after opening.

Tomato Baharat Jam1.2kg tomatoes, peeled
300g sugar
6 star anise
5 cloves
4 cinnamon quills, broken in half
2 Tbs tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop tomatoes and place in a sieve to drain off any liquid. Discard liquid and place tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with the sugar and spices. Simmer over medium heat, stirring from time to time, for 25 minutes. Add tomato paste and lemon juice, reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until reduced and thickened to the consistency of jam or chutney. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove the spices. The cloves might be difficult to find, so just leave them in.

Place about 8 small clean jars in the microwave without their lids. Mustard jars and small jam jars are ideal. Heat on high for 2 minutes to sterilize. Fill jars with the hot tomato jam, seal with lids.

Makes about a litre

Note: if you don’t have whole spices use ¼ tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground star anise and 2 tsp ground cinnamon.

Reader’s requests for Tomato recipes

I’ve recently received two reader’s requests.  One from my Chilean friend Sonia who remembers a Roasted Tomato Salad I made when she came to our house in Santiago, Chile.  It was given to me by my friend Ferne.  The other is from my American cousin Anne who remembers a cheese and tomato flan I made when she was in England in the 70s.  Fortunately I have a similar memory when it comes to food and knew immediately which recipe she meant.

The tomato salad needs to be made with Roma tomatoes because round varieties contain more water and don’t hold their shape.  Once prepared the salad will keep for several days in the fridge.  It’s a fantastic addition to a buffet or barbecue, perfect to have in the fridge over the holiday season and fairly quick to make when you’re asked to “bring a plate”.  Being asked to bring a plate to a pot luck lunch or dinner is quite common in Australia.  My Greek teacher, Michael Kazan, told us that when he first arrived in Canberra over 40 years ago and was asked to bring a plate he was somewhat perplexed.  If your host hasn’t got enough plates, they’re probably short of everything.  So he and his wife turned up with plates, glasses and cutlery.

Use your favourite shortcrust pastry recipe for the Lancashire flan, or buy it. Preparing the right amount of pastry and filling to suit your tin/dish is always hit and miss.  Quiche tins and dishes vary in their capacity, even ones with the same diameter.  I made up 250g of pastry (250g flour and 150g butter, plus a dash of water) and used the rectangular tin shown in the photo.  There was enough pastry left to make another small quiche shell which I partly cooked then froze empty, to use on another occasion.

Ferne’s Roasted Tomato Salad

1 kg Roma tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs Thai sweet Chilli sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
Dressing:
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar, preferably white
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 200°C.  Halve tomatoes lengthwise and place cut side up on a cake cooling rack over a baking tray or dish.  Line the baking tray with baking paper to save on the washing up.  Mix garlic, chilli sauce and olive oil and brush generously onto tomatoes using it all up.  Bake 30-40 mins or until starting to brown.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  Arrange in a serving dish.  Place oil and vinegar in a jar with a lid and shake well.  At serving time spoon over some dressing and sprinkle with basil.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8-10

Lancashire Cheese, Tomato & Bacon Flan

1 uncooked quiche shell made from shortcrust pastry and chilled
100g lardons or bacon
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (discard the seeds)
125g grated Lancashire cheese (or substitute cheddar)
2 large eggs
1 cup cream (or use half cream, half milk)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tomatoes thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line pastry case with foil and fill with corn or something similar to give weight.  Bake for 5-10 mins until pastry has set.  Remove foil and cook for a few more minutes until light golden, remove from oven.  Meanwhile fry lardons or chopped bacon in a non-stick pan until lightly browned. Drain and scatter over the base of the pastry case, then sprinkle onion, chopped tomatoes and grated cheese evenly over the bacon.  Beat eggs, cream and milk, season to taste and pour over.  Arrange sliced tomatoes over the top.  Bake for 30-40 mins until puffed and golden.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 8

Note: lardons are chunky bits cut from thickly sliced bacon or speck.