We're growing several varieties with different hues at the moment, including small plum tomatoes, which we cut in half for this dish. Use whatever small tomatoes you can get your hands on. The fresher the better, and you should aim for cherry tomato-size. Like the name suggests, this is an upside-down tart. The pastry goes on top then you flip it over (carefully) when ready to serve.
Moisture is the key to the success of this tart.
We want to achieve a fine balance between crisp buttery pastry and unctious caramelized tomatoes, it is all too easy to turn out a soggy mess. You may have heard recipes and people recommend the Italian plum variety 'San Marzano'. The reason: it has the lowest moisture content of any commercial tomato variety.
The key is to minimize the moisture content of the tomatoes, hence our recommendation for small ones. Being a perfectionist I take this one step further and cut a small slit in each tomato, then squeeze very gently to express some of the juice into a bowl. This also allows the tomatoes to release steam when cooking. For the small plum tomatoes, cut in half, just squeeze gently to express some of the juice. Keep this collected juice.
This dish can be prepared in advance, but do not bake it until 45-60 minutes before you intend to serve it.
Ingredients (serves four)
- 200g\7oz puff pastry - home-made or a good pre-made one (100 percent butter or goose fat)
- 50ml\¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 500g\1.2 lbs small tomatoes your choice (mix and match, if like, and do remove the stalks)
- 40ml\8 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Splash of Madeira (Marsala or port can also be used)
- Salt & black pepper
- Handful of basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Tools of the Trade
- 20cm\8-inch tart pan
- Serving plate with a bit of ridge
Preheat oven to 220°C\425°F\gas mark 7 (reduce temperature by 10% if using a fan oven). Use enough of the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pastry tin. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer in the tart tin and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the collected tomato juice, strained of any seeds, in a small pan and reduce until there is just a teaspoon of liquid left. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce until it forms a syrup. Add a splash of Madeira, mix well, then pour the syrup over the tomatoes.
Roll out the pastry a little wider than the tart tin, brush with any remaining olive oil, then drape it over the tomatoes, tucking the pastry down into the pan, around the tomatoes.
Make slits in four/five places on the pastry to allow steam to escape during cooking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed up and a nice deep blonde colour. Check the tart often, it may cook faster or slower depending on the size of the tomatoes and your particular oven.
Remove from the oven and loosen the pastry from the sides of the pan by running a palette or blunt knife around it. If there is any runny juice in the bottom of the pan, these can be poured into a jug. Do not turn out the tart until you are ready to serve it.
To turn it out place the serving plate over the tin and carefully flip the tart over. If any of the tomatoes are stuck to the tin, gently ease them off and place on the tart. Pour on the runny juice, if any, and serve immediately.
Add 30g\1 oz of pitted and chopped black olives (greek-style) in with the tomates, prior to cooking for a darker, earthier flavour.