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Tomato and Cheese Tart with Basil Almond Pesto

These tarts have the most amazing texture and taste. I have used white poppy seeds but you could easily substitute it with blue poppy seeds. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil (with the oil drained) can be substituted for the prepared tomatoes here.

For the Tartlets

225 gm (1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
25 gm (1 heaped tbsp) poppy seeds
110 gm (1/2 cup) butter, chilled and cubed
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk

For the Tomatoes
500 gm (4 to 5) medium sized tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp or to taste freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt or to taste

For the Basil Almond Pesto
1 cup (250 ml) packed basil leaves
30 almonds
1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cheddar or parmesan cheese
3 tbsp Olive oil
200 gm cheddar cheese, grated
6 Tartlet tins, approximately
10 cm in diameter and
2 cm deep


To make the Tarts:

Cut the butter into cubes and place in the refrigerator or freezer if your butter is a bit warm. We need absolutely cold cut butter.

In a large bowl, sift in the flour and mix in the salt and poppy seeds.

Using a pastry blender or your finger tips, rub the cold cut butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Pour in the milk and mix with your hands until the mixture comes together and forms a ball. Do not knead or mix the dough any more. You need to see the tiny pieces of butter in the flour which is absolutely essential to get a flaky crust. Wrap the ball of dough in some aluminum foil and chill for a few hours, at the least a couple of hours.

Brush the base and up the sides of the tart tins with some melted butter. Divide the chilled dough into 6 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle, approximately 12 cm in diameter. Place the rolled dough into the greased tins. Gently press the sides with your fingers to get even edges. Repeat for the remaining 5 pastries. Chill the tart cases for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170 degree centigrade/ Gas mark 3. Line the base and sides of all the tart tins with greaseproof paper and fill them with baking beans or rice (can be reused) and bake blind for 20 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans or rice and bake again for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. (Depending on your oven this could even take 20 minutes). Allow to cool.

Prepare the Tomatoes:

In a medium sized sauce pan, place the tomatoes, olive oil, pepper and salt and cook on a medium flame until all the juices of the tomatoes have disappeared, stirring in between to prevent scorching.

To make the Basil Almond Pesto:

In a food processor or blender, place the basil leaves, cheese, salt and almonds with a little water and process until you get a mixture which is not very smooth. Place this mixture in a bowl, put in the olive oil and mix until well blended.

To assemble the Tartlets:

Preheat your oven to 180 degree centigrade/ Gas mark 4. Sprinkle some quick cooking rolled oats over the cooled tarts. This will absorb moisture from the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes carefully over it. Spoon the Basil Almond Pesto over the tomatoes.

Put in the grated cheese and bake in the centre of the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese completely melts over. When the tarts are cool enough to handle, carefully unmould them and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 tarts *Tartlet base recipe adapted from Ottolenghi