Like everyone else in this world, I’ve gushed about spring in the past and droned on rapturously about the sunshine, flowers, birdies, bees, blah, blah, blah. That’s all lovely, of course, but there is another side to spring that has slightly fewer charms. I’m talking about the swallows which insist on annually nesting on my outdoor blinds, pooping all over said blinds and the table and chairs below. Or how about the changeable weather with it’s sunshine, gentle breezes, howling gales and pouring rains – often all in the course of just a few hours, meaning I am continuously underdressed or overdressed. Last week the evening temperature up here plummeted to 5C – just when we’d run out of fire wood. Then there’s the skyrocketing pollen counts and the subsequent cost of boxes of tissues and giant economy-sized packets of anti-histamines. And, most exciting of all, the sudden appearance of hungry and aggressively bad-tempered brown snakes who, combined with the triffid like growth of the grass/plants/weeds around our property, make my trips to the hen house to collect the eggs an anxiety-ridden scuttle, complete with long rubber boots and a machete. I’m telling you, it’s not all beer and skittles up here in springtime in the hills.
There – I’m glad I’ve got that little moan off my chest.
One thing I always welcome at this time of the year, though, is the reappearance of the first of the seasonal tomatoes. Tomatoes in general are mostly a disappointment these days, with even the pricey, vine-ripened ones failing to deliver much in the way of flavour, and my complete and utter inability to grow them up here means that I’m reliant on those I buy at the farmers markets. However, I recently made a slightly happy discovery with the purchase of a punnet of the mini Roma tomatoes from my local Foodland store. They seem to have a little more flavour than other commercially available tomatoes and really come into their own when slow roasted.
This recipe uses the tomatoes after they’ve been slow-roasted and, with frozen puff pastry and lots of fresh herbs from my garden, is another of my lazy-girl cheats dishes. I made it for my dear friend Liz for lunch the other day, along with a big plate of brownies for dessert and we were both pretty happy with the meal. Just one tip, watch the baking of this tart like a hawk. I didn’t and let it go just a little too long – it tasted great, but didn’t photograph so well.
- 300 gms mini Roma tomatoes, halved
- 50 mls olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch fresh oregano
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
- ½ cup of grated cheese (either mozzarella or cheddar, you decide)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 100 gms goats chevre or feta
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 150C (300F).
- Toss halved tomatoes, ½ the bunch of thyme leaves, ½ the bunch of oregano leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl, then place the tomatoes on a lined baking tray, cut side up. Place in oven and roast for 1 hour. Leave to cool slightly.
- Raise oven temperature to 200C (400F).
- Place thawed pastry on a sheet of oven-proof paper, cover with another sheet and roll out gently to a rectangular shape.
- Leaving the pastry on the bottom sheet of paper, place it on a baking tray and using a sharp knife score a line 2 cms around the four sides of the inside of the pastry, making a 2 cm frame around the edge of the pastry.
- Sprinkle the interior rectangle with the cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese and dot with the slightly cooled, roasted tomatoes.
- Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves and brush the pastry edge with egg wash.
- Bake in oven for 15-17 minutes – no longer or cheese will overcook.
- Scatter the tart with crumbled goats chevre or feta, then sprinkle with the remaining oregano leaves.
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