Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? It’s a common table quiz question and I can categorically say it’s a fruit. These Irish tomatoes are just a very small percentage of our growing in the polytunnel this year.
I like to eat tomatoes fresh in salads with a crack of pepper, a drizzle of oil and a torn piece of basil. It was one of my favourite lunchtime meals when I worked in the city centre, so much so that I’d often shell out up to €5.75 for a quality sandwich. Oh how times have changed.
This beautiful tomato tart becomes extremely frugal if you grow your own but even if you don’t, Irish tomatoes are brilliant value in the supermarkets and grocery stores at the moment. The roll of chilled puff pastry (275g) that I’ve used costs only 95c in my local Lidl, the tomatoes are all from the allotment, as is the basil. I confess we don’t press our own oil quite yet but a drizzle of oil and a crack of black pepper and salt is the last you’ll need to bake with. A 125g ball of mozzarella in the same shop will set you back 59c. Add a bag of budget salad tomatoes from my local grocer’s for €1 and the entire cost comes to a maximum of €3 for the tart which generously allows for powering the oven, oil and seasoning.
The tart will serve 4 hungry adults for lunch which equates to a price of 75c per portion, as we grew our own tomatoes, the extra ingredients and allowing for the store cupboard items and electricity, the tart has cost me a maximum of €2 to produce, or 50c per portion.
Warm Tomato Tart (Serves 4 adults)
- 125g roll of puff pastry
- 7 medium salad tomatoes (or more if you have them)
- 20ml olive oil
- 125g fresh mozzarella
- Couple of fresh basil leaves
Preheat a fan oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Line a large cookie/baking tray with non stick baking paper. Roll out the puff pastry on top of the baking paper. Remember it will shrink in the oven so you probably won’t need to trim it. I forgot about this and trimmed off the edges, Silly me.
Trace out an inner rectangle with a sharp knife, make sure you don’t cut right through the pastry by just tracing on top of the dough. Criss-cross this inner space using the same tracing method. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until a pale golden colour. Once baked, remove and using the back of a spoon bash down the inner rectangle into crumbs. This will soak up the tomato juices.
You could go all fancy and slice up the tomatoes into pretty slices but I like to cut them into large hunks and fit them inside the pastry case. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil and return the tart to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t want the tomatoes to turn to mush but you do want them to heat through.
Remove from the oven. Tear the mozzarella into rough pieces and tuck it in between the tomatoes. Rip a few leaves of basil and sprinkle on top of the tart. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.
You might notice that I haven’t used all red tomatoes. That’s because we have a couple of “indigo rose” ones that are ripe. I originally took photos of the tomatoes before they ripened, while they were still green. Now they are red and juicy on the interior and a dark purple on the exterior, not unlike an aubergine.
We’ve grown a number of different varieties of tomato this year. Much of the credit for our tomatoes is due to both Kathryn Marsh and Nicky Kyle. We received gifts of seedlings from both and there is no way we would have pushed ourselves so much without their help and expertise. I was first introduced to the Indigo Rose tomato at the Totally Terrific Tomato Festival last year which is held in Rolestown Garden Centre. Kathryn knew I was fascinated with the properties of this new breed of tomato and generously gave me a gift of a seedling when the allotments officially opened.
The festival will be held again this year on Sunday next, 1st September and if you’re interested in heading along, hearing the experts speak with passion about the versatile fruit and perhaps even taste or throw a tomato or two (yes I said throw), then you can find more information here.