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Tomatoes: Mediterranean Tomato and Olive Tarts

Mediterranean Tomato & Olive Tarts

These are basically pizzas with a polenta pastry crust. The advantage, apart from the fact that the base is deliciously crunchy and short, is that it’s much quicker and easier than pizza dough. I’ve suggested goat’s cheese here, but you can put whatever you like on them, The possibilities are endless: tuna or anchovy and caper berries; artichoke hearts and grilled red pepper; feta and thin slices of aubergine; slivers of garlic, pancetta, chorizo, strips of courgette, pine nuts, thin slices of spring onion, tarragon, coriander… Ingredients such as tuna and shavings of parmesan should be added when they come out of the oven with some extra olive oil dribbled over. Serves 6 (either I large, 2 smaller or 6 individual tarts)

Base 180g plain flour 80g polenta 105g butter, fridge-cold and diced 105g soft cheese (Philadelphia-style) 1 egg yolk

Filling/topping 2 x 440g tins of chopped tomatoes 12-16 cherry tomatoes, sliced in 4-6 depending on size 1/4 tsp sugar (optional) Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1-2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or chopped oregano 200g goat’s cheese 16-20 olives 1-2 tbsp olive oil Basil to garnish (optional)

To make the pastry, put everything except the egg in a food processor and blend briefly until the mixture starts to come together – don’t overdo it. Add the yolk and pulse just enough to mix it in – again, don’t overdo it.

Put the pastry on a floured surface and bring it together in a large lump. If you’re making two or six tarts divide it into lumps accordingly at this point, but try to handle it as little as possible. Press the lump(s) with the heel of your hand to flatten. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes or put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Put the tomatoes in a sieve over a basin (you don’t need the juice, but you can always drink it with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and tabasco).

Preheat the oven to 190C /170C fan/gas 5.

When the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3 mm (little more than £1 coin). You’re aiming for ragged-edged, rough circles, not perfection. Put it/them on baking sheet(s) and push up the edge slightly with your finger all the way round, pressing together any big cracks if necessary.

Cover with the tinned tomato to 1.5cm of the edge. Cover with the tomato slices (a random or tidy arrangement, as you wish). Sprinkle with a little sugar if using, but with luck your tomatoes will be sweet enough not to need it. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with half the thyme/oregano.

Cut the goat’s cheese into pieces or crumble it, according to type and texture. Dot it around on the tomato. Do the same with the olives. Sprinkle with the rest of the thyme and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 mins. Garnish with basil leaves if using.

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