Tomato and caramelised onion tarte tatin

Tomato Tarte Tatin

This delicious, savoury take on tarte tatin came about for two reasons. Firstly, I was pleased with my recent trad-tatin in all its caramel and apple glory, and had seen a couple of different tomato versions around the web I wanted to try next. Secondly, as is often the reason for trying out a new recipe, I had something languishing in the freezer in need of being used, namely a sheet of frozen puff pastry.

Oven roasting tomatoes seems to do something magical to them. Their flavour gets better, sweeter and more intense, and in fact cooking them like this can make a difference to even the most pallid and apparently flavourless supermarket tomato. Here, the sticky sweetness and balsamic tang of the caramelised onions is a near perfect pairing. The tomatoes will give up a lot of liquid as they cook, so the resulting tarte has a flaky, crispy outside edge, whereas the pastry in the middle is melting and delicious with the sweet juices. This likely means it won’t turn out perfectly from the pan after you take it from the oven, as you might be able to tell from my pictures, but all you need to do is rearrange any dislodged tomatoes. It tastes good, which matters far more. This would make a good starter, if you’re so inclined, but, along with a salad and expectations of pudding, will serve 4 as a main perfectly well.

1 sheet ready made puff pastry, defrosted if frozen

olive oil

2 red onions, cut in half, sliced into half moons and then separated out into strands

2 teaspoons sugar

balsamic vinegar

a knob of butter

1 clove of garlic

4 large tomatoes and a handful a smaller ones (I used some small, but not baby, plum tomatoes, fat and perhaps an inch long)

handful chopped fresh basil, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan. In a 25cm-ish pan that you can use on the hob and in the oven (a shallow, flamesafe casserole or a frying pan with an ovenproof handle), add about a tablespoon of oil and gently cook the onions over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until soft and golden. This will take about ten minutes. Add a teaspoon of the sugar and stir to dissolve, and cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add a good splash of balsamic vinegar, stir once more and cook for another minute. Empty the onions and any juices into a bowl and put to one side. Carefully wipe out the pan with a piece of kitchen towel.

While the onions are cooking, halve the large tomatoes. If your smaller tomatoes are very small – baby plums or cherries – leave them whole, otherwise halve these too. Once the onions are out of the pan and you have wiped it out, put it back over the heat, add the butter and another tablespoon of oil, and let the butter melt. Mince the garlic into the butter and oil, and add the other teaspoon of sugar, giving everything a good stir, and let it sizzle for just a minute. Place the large tomato halves into the butter, cut side down, and leave for thirty seconds. Then, fill in the gaps between the tomatoes with the smaller ones, again cut side down if halved. Leave for another thirty seconds and then remove from the heat. Tip the onions, including any juices, over the top of the tomatoes, spreading them out as you do.

From the puff pastry sheet, cut out a circle slightly larger than the pan. You may need to roll out the sheet a little more so it is big enough to cut out the circle in a single piece. Place the pastry over the top of the tomatoes and onions, tucking the excess down the sides. Place the dish onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

When you take the tarte out of the oven, carefully and using oven gloves, put a plate, large than the pan, over the top of the dish, and invert the whole thing leaving your tarte right-way-up on the plate. Scatter with the basil.

Serves 4.

Tomato Tarte Tatin

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