I like a nice dessert as much as the next person but, on balance, I much prefer savoury dishes. So, when I discover a way to take a classic sweet dish and make a savoury version of it, it’s a bit of a result. Love a classic apple tarte tatin? Try this tomato and caramelised onion version and I guarantee that you’ll make it time and time again. It’s perfect for a light summer lunch or supper with a dressed green salad. You can serve it hot or just warm but the longer you leave it, the more juices from the tomatoes will run back into the pastry and it won’t be as crisp. Either way, it’s delicious. It looks impressive and like you’ve made lots of effort, but it’s very easy to make.
You will need……
- A frying pan and a heavy bottomed tarte tatin tin (21 cm or 8.5 inches) or a shallow, cast iron pan like a Le Creuset with an ovenproof handle.
- 3 large red onions.
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
- 650g ripe tomatoes – halved.
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar. I use El Majuelo Jerez sherry which won a ‘great taste’ gold award in 2011 – available from Waitrose and other good food stores.
- 25g unsalted butter.
- 25g golden caster sugar.
- 100ml water.
- Fresh thyme leaves – about a teaspoon.
- 500g pack of ready made puff pastry.
- Cheese to top – grated parmesan or crumbled feta or goat’s cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Firstly, peel and slice the onions. Then, heat the olive oil in a separate frying pan and cook them with a little salt and a pinch of sugar over a medium heat until they are soft and slightly caramelised. It should take around ten minutes. Then add the crushed garlic and the fresh thyme leaves (reserve a few to garnish it at the end).
- Now for the pastry. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to stop it sticking. Using your tatin pan as a guide, place it in the middle of the rolled out pastry and cut out a circle just slightly bigger than the base – a couple of cms or half an inch. Chill it in the fridge for about 15 minutes until you need it.
- Next, set your tatin tin or pan over a medium heat and add the sugar and water. Don’t stir it but watch it carefully as the sugar melts, reduces into the liquid and turns golden brown and sticky.
- When the caramelised syrup is ready, take the pan off the heat and add the sherry vinegar and butter. Stir it gently to mix it all together and thicken. (It may spit a bit so wear an apron if you’re worried about getting your clothes stained).
- Slice the tomatoes in half and place them cut-side down into the caramel in the tatin pan. (I have been known to tuck in a few cherry tomatoes if there are big spaces between the tomato halves). Then, layer over the onions.
- Take your pastry circle out of the fridge and lay it over the onions and tomatoes in the tatin pan. Tuck it in down the sides and prick it all over with a fork to allow the steam to escape.
- Put the tarte in the oven and cook it for about 40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
- Take it out of the oven, leave it to settle for 4 or 5 minutes and invert it onto a large plate – use a tea towel or oven glove to protect your hands. Give it a shake to allow it to drop onto the plate. Sometimes, if the tomatoes stick a little, you might just have to gently remove them from the base of the pan and put it back on the tarte. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin oil, give it a twist of black pepper and scatter with cheese if you are using it, dress with a few fresh thyme leaves.
- This will serve four people if served with a salad or two greedy people!