Travelling to beautiful places like Nice, as I did last weekend, where there’s the most wonderful food to be enjoyed, just has to be an inspiration once you’re back home in your own kitchen. I thus decided to cook a Niçois meal for the family this evening.
Tarte à la Tomate, along with pissaladière (onion tart), are common on menus in Nice. They’re also found in bakeries or on street-food stalls to have as a snack. I had a tomato tart as a starter for lunch in La Merenda on my last day. That had a kind of bread base and was very nice but I thought I’d prefer to make one with a lighter pastry base, and which is perhaps more common in Nice. I found pretty much what I was looking for in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday! I used Hugh’s recipe as a base but added some goats’ cheese and olives; instead of fresh thyme, I used the Herbes de Provence I brought back from Nice.
Like Hugh, I used ready-made all-butter puff pastry. This shortcut means it’s a really simple and quick dish to put together. It’s also fantastically delicious!
Tomato & Goats’ Cheese Tart
- 1 pack (about 350g) ready-made, all-butter puff pastry
- olive oil
- a little fine polenta
- 1 egg, beaten
- about 350g tomatoes (I chose a mix of colours)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- dried herbes de Provence (or thyme)
- 100g wheel of goats’ cheese, with rind, but into thin slices
- a handful of small black olives
The pastry was ready rolled. Grease a baking tray and lightly oil with the olive oil. Sprinkle over a little polenta – this helps make the base of the tart nice and crisp. Cut away strips of about 1cm from each side. Brush with the egg and put back on to the edge. Brush the top of the strips with more egg. This makes a little ‘wall’ round the edge of the tart.
Cut the tomatoes into roughly 2-3mm slices; the smaller plum tomatoes I cut in half lengthwise.
Sprinkle the chopped garlic over the pastry base then lay the tomato pieces on top so the pastry is well covered. Season a little with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over a little of the dried herbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Put into a preheated oven at 190C/Fan 170/Gas 5 for about 15-20 minutes, or until the edge of the pastry is light golden brown and the tomatoes noticeably softening.
Remove from the oven and lay the cheese slices on top. Scatter over the olives and a little more of the dried herbs. Drizzle over a little more olive oil and put back in the oven for about another 10-15 minutes.
Remove when the tart is nicely brown and the cheese starting the melt.
It looked wonderful and smelled gorgeous. It’s best served warm rather than hot, but I actually made mine in advance – an hour or two before eating – so it had cooled. I considered reheating but decided not to. It was going to be fine just as it was.
We had it as a starter and cut it into 16 smallish pieces – mainly because we had 4½ year old Freddie and 22 month Benjamin eating with us. It was really fantastic and just as I’d hoped, really did taste of Nice. I was transported back – despite the cold, wet autumnal weather outside. Freddie liked it so much he ate 4 slices!
I’d made a Salade Niçoise as a ‘main’ which we had with fougasse bread (Provençal bread) from Paul Bakery.
I was really delighted with how the tomato tart turned out. I thought we’d eat just half of it as a starter but we finished it. Everyone loved it.
It would make a great midweek light supper with a nice green salad, and of course is a great dish for vegetarians. It would even be good for picnics.
It may be cold and grey outside but you can bring a little Provençal sun into your home with this sunny and gorgeous tomato tart.