It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
For my friends in the northern hemisphere winter is ended and spring is bringing with it the promise of picnics, long sunshine filled days and new season fruits and vegetables – asparagus, baby peas, tiny new potatoes and strawberries. I’m sitting here listening to rain on the roof, recovering from a particularly nasty virus, feeling the unaccustomed chill of autumn in the air and contemplating all the things I love about winter; snuggling under the blankets at night, soup for dinner, sipping steaming hot chocolate, and sitting in front of the fire drinking a glass of red wine and watching the flames.
Cooking is so different in the winter; the seasonal ingredients respond to long, slow cooking and have a richness that warms from the inside. I love creating recipes with winter fruits, vegetables and spices, making casseroles, pies, and tasty puddings. But before I let go of light, summery food I wanted to make these delicious roasted cherry tomato tarts – a last taste of summer for me, and perhaps, a first taste of spring for my friends. They would be perfect for a springtime picnic, and they are still delicious in my world, to show off the last of the summer’s tomatoes. I hope you enjoy with a salad of soft herbs and peppery rocket.
Makes 8 tarts
2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
250 g mascarpone
750 g mixed cherry tomatoes
sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon raw caster sugar
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs
Preheat oven to 180 C. Cut 8 rounds of pastry, 10 cm in diameter from the 2 pastry sheets. Prick all over with a fork, place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and bake in the oven until lightly browned and crisp. Take out of the oven and cool to room temperature. Slice the tomatoes in half and place sliced side up on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the dried oregano and sugar. Cook in the oven at the same time as the pastry, but for 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft, and look a bit shrunken and wrinkled. Take out of the oven and cool slightly. When ready to serve spread about 1 tablespoon of the mascarpone on each pastry round and top with the tomatoes. Scatter over the herbs and serve.