Ricotta and Tomato Tart

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Michel Roux made a mackerel tart with a fish mouse and tomato concasse on Masterchef “The Professionals” this week. The thought of a refined, intense tomato paste made without the seeds and skin and a smooth creamy mousse stuck with me, and when I got off the train in Woodbridge this evening and saw a heap of very ripe tomatoes in the kitchen, I came up with this.

Ricotta is a light cheese and is lent richness and intensity by the addition of parmesan and egg yolks. The slightly whisked whites give the ricotta a light texture and make sure that it sets and can be sliced. It’s important to ensure the tomato concasse is sufficiently intense to make this really good, so pay attention to seasoning.

I very much enjoyed eating this toute seule in Suffolk with a green salad.

You can of course use all-butter ready made shortcrust pastry – there are many very good quality versions available to buy.

If you don’t have 2 ovens (a hot one for the tart, a cooler one for the oven dried tomatoes) you can just roast the tomatoes in the same oven, but be careful not to cook them for too long. I was using an Aga which has a hot and a warming oven. 

Pastry (enough for an 8 inch tart)

4oz, plain flour

2oz, unsalted butter

cold water

pinch of salt

Ricotta Filling

250g ricotta

2 eggs, separated (break the egg gently over one bowl and allow the white to pour out, then put the yolk into a separate bowl)

3 heaped tablespoons, grated parmesan

a grating of nutmeg

Tomato Concasse Base

6 ripe medium-sized tomatoes (blanched for 30 seconds in boiling water, peeled, and seeds and tough core removed, finely chopped)

a tablespoon of torn basil

a tablespoon of finely chopped parlsey

2 small shallots, very finely chopped

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon, red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons, olive oil

Garnish  

1 oven dried tomato (blanched, peeled, seeds and tough centre removed, cut into eight lengths, cooked at low temperature for 1 hour in a touch of oil and salt)

8 basil leaves

How to make:

Pre-heat the oven for the tart to 180 degrees celsius, (and the other oven for the tomatoes to 130 degrees celsius if you have two). 

Make the pastry:

Cut the butter into chunks, rub into sieved flour with a pinch of salt until resembling bread crumbs. Use tips of fingers to keep cool. Slowly add a little water and stir with a metal spoon (to keep low temperature) until it comes together. Do not add too much water – be cautious. Form into rough ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 mins.  It is important to handle the pastry as little as possible. Do not overwork.

Make the concasse:

Then prepare the tomatoes including the garnish. Remove the seeds and tough core. Toss the slices of tomato for the garnish in a little olive oil and salt and put in the oven at around 130 degrees in a metal tray, or in the main oven – for less time.

For the concasse, finely chop the de-seeded tomatoes. Place the finely chopped shallots and garlic in the olive oil in a pan and cook gently, not allowing to colour until very soft. Then add the tomato, tomato paste and the herbs and cook for 15-20 minutes on a low-medium heat so that it’s gently bubbling. Add the vinegar and season well with salt. Almost all of the wet moisture should be gone, leaving a paste-like texture.

Make the tart:

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out thinly (around ½ cm), place in a 9-inch, buttered tart case, making sure that there’s no holes in the pastry. Do not trim the edges and allow the pastry to go over the side of the tart case as it will shrink when cooking.

Blind bake for 15 minutes in the hot oven, weighing down the inside of the tart case with baking beans or dried pulses on a sheet of baking paper. 

Beat the egg yolks with the ricotta and parmesan, season with salt and pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Separately roughly whisk the egg whites until they are lightly aerated, then stir into the ricotta mix.

Remove the oven-dried tomatoes from the oven – they should still be fleshy, but reduced in size and not wet.

Remove the blind baked pastry from the oven and trim the excess pastry from the edge carefully with a knife.

Spread the tomato concasse over the base of the tart. Spoon the ricotta mix over and smooth out. Decorate with the dried tomato and basil leaves.

Bake for 20-25 minutes on the base of the oven, to ensure the bottom is cooked through. Stick a knife in to check the ricotta mix is cooked. It should not stick.

Eaten with:

Green salad and white wine. 

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