The smell of tomato plants always reminds me of my Nanna. As I brush my hand over their leaves and bring them to my nose I am a little girl once again, in the backyard of their garden, under the clothesline where the cherry tomatoes grew up the trellis against the fence. I can almost feel the warmth of the summer sunshine on the backs of my shoulders.
My Nanna would spread two slices of lightly toasted bread with generous lashings of butter, which was applied with a bone handled knife with great precision right into the corners of the crusts. Sliced tomatoes would follow along with cracked black pepper and a rather hefty pinch of salt!
When tomato season arrives I can almost hear the collective squeals of delight from all who admire these shiny, taught-skinned treasures. They really are very deserving of a celebration. Which is why I decided to make this honey-roasted tomato and goat cheese tart. Its luscious and all that is needed to accompany it is a vibrant green leafy salad dressed in nothing but a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to make it perfect for any time of the day. We enjoy the leftovers straight from the fridge in the days that follow but it also re-heats extremely well too. The polenta adds a lovely texture to the pastry making it one of my favourite tarts to date.
I have shared the recipe below for you, in the hope that during this somewhat slower pace of life that most of us find ourselves in at the moment, that you can enjoy the process of standing at a floured bench, rolling out butter streaked pastry and filling it with ingredients that deserve to be celebrated. Because at the end of the day it is the simple things in life that really matter.
Honey-roasted tomato and goat cheese tart
Makes a 23cm tart
500g tomatoes, I used a mixture of cherry tomatoes and slightly larger ones as well. The smaller ones can be halved and the larger can be quartered.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 cup of cream
3 free range eggs
1 cup of milk
100g goat cheese
For the pastry
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp polenta
125g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
about 60ml of cold water
Put the flour, salt and polenta into a medium bowl and give it a quick stir with your hand. Add in the butter and using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, some larger chunks of butter are ok. add in some water a little at a time and bring the dough together into a ball. Wrap it in a sheet of baking paper and pop it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. If you are keeping it overnight just make sure you take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature again, this will make it easier when it comes to rolling it out.
Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin with butter.
On a lightly floured bench, roll out your pastry until its slightly bigger then your tart tin, roll the pastry back onto your rolling pin and then drape it over the top of the tin. Carefully ease the pastry into the tin, pressing down into the sides. Trim the top and keep to the side just in case you need to use it to patch up any cracks.
Place the tin on a baking tray and pop back into the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Tear off a sheet of foil and press into the tart shell, making sure you have covered the sides as well, pour in baking beads or rice to weigh it down and place into the oven for 20 minutes, after this time remove the foil and weights, check to see if there are any cracks and if there are, simply patch them up with the reserved pastry offcuts, pressing it into the cracks, the heat from the tart shell will make it stick, pop back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Adjust your oven to 180 degrees.
Place the tomatoes onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and mix the olive oil, honey, thyme and garlic along with salt and pepper into a small bowl and stir well. Pour over the tomatoes and stir it all really well to coat. Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes should collapse and will be swimming in a delicious pool of honey spiked juice. Set aside.
Whip half the cream until soft peaks are reached. In a medium bowl pour in the remaining cream along with the eggs, milk and half of the goat cheese, a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Pour this into the tart shell and then place the tomatoes on top, drizzle over a couple of spoonfuls of the juices and crumble over the remaining goat cheese. Place into the oven for 40-45 minutes or until its golden and just set when shaken gently. Remove from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.. Remove very carefully from the tin, I find it easier to place a small bowl underneath the tin so that you can then pull down the rim and then place the tart onto a plate and serve.