Tomato & Pesto Canapés

Home-grown tomatoes with freshly made pesto make for one of my favourite flavour combinations and I have been making simple tarts using these two ingredients for many years.

I love eating miniature versions of dishes: the idea of grazing casually on finger-food never fails to excite me, so these canapé-sided tartlets fit the bill. They can, of course, be made as large as you want and I often make these into full-on tarts!

For assembling, a small amount of pesto is spread over the uncooked pastry base, a halved plum tomato is placed on top, followed by seasoning and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. These are then baked at 200C for about 10 minutes.

Once baked and cooled, a few drops of balsamic reduction, a baby basil leaf and small Parmesan crisp finish these canapés off.

For this batch, I used some baby plum tomatoes that I took straight from the freezer: I always freeze halved small plum and cherry tomatoes in the autumn which are great for use in recipes such as this and they still have a lovely fresh taste about them. But I often make this with halved, lightly oven-roasted tomatoes, although these work perfectly of course with fresh tomatoes.

I made up a quick rough-puff pastry for this, giving about 200g pastry, but you can use puff pastry or shortcrust pastry. I use a small circular cutter and, when cut out, I lightly press a slightly smaller cutter on the surface of each to form a ring (as in the picture below): the outer ring of the bases rises up just a little as they bake: not as much as for vol-au-vents, but enough to give a slight ridge.

For the pesto, I pound fresh basil, seasoning, grated parmesan, toasted pine nuts and extra-virgin olive oil with a pestle and mortar until it comes to a fairly coarse paste.

For the Parmesan crisps, I put small mounds of grated Parmesan on a baking parchment and bake for 5-6 minutes or so until just bubbling. I leave them to cool on the parchment.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

5 thoughts on “Tomato & Pesto Canapés”

  1. The savoury selection at afternoon tea is just as important as the sweet I think and these fit the bill perfectly. Another recipe for me to try at my own afternoon teas! Thank you for more inspiration Philip!

    Tea With Me and Friends afternoon tea blog


    1. You’re welcome. I agree: Afternoon Tea needs a good savoury component, in addition to a fabulous sandwich selection. And the savouries should be as exciting on the eyes and taste buds as the sweet selection


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