My bruschetta-inspired tartlets, using wonderful, simple ingredients that are being picked right now in the garden, give a real taste of summer.
These were very much a trial for an event I am catering for soon (social distancing rules still applying of course) and gluten-free vegetarian food is the order of the day.
But despite these being a trial (to see if everything all works well together), on this occasion I am not going to change anything when I make a larger batch for the event. It’s rare when that happens!
Now I love bruschetta, but I fancied something a little different, while still evoking that bruschetta vibe. And, crucially, easier/tidier to eat at a function!
The filling for these tartlets is simply tomatoes, basil, garlic, chopped red onion, seasoning and the merest splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. As the filling ingredients sit while the pastry is made, the flavours develop to give gorgeous bursts of summery joy in your mouth. If you want a lovely burst of sour, your can add some chopped capers.
If you are fortunate to be able to grown some of your own produce, you will know that you cannot beat the taste of freshly picked vegetables: tomatoes straight from the vine – still warm from the greenhouse- and that heady fragrance and flavour you get with fresh basil. Food pleasures for sure.
Pre-baking the tart cakes and making ahead
I baked the tart cases until they were fully cooked and gave them a light dusting with a mixture of onion powder and powdered Parmesan.
It is then just a matter of filling them.The filling can be made a couple of days ahead, too, in which case the flavours will really take on an even more terrific flavour.
The pastry cases keep well in an airtight container for a few days so you can make them ahead. Just fill them not much more than a few hours before you want to eat as the mositure in this filling will soften the pastry.
Gram flour pastry
I loathe the shop-bought gluten-free pastry: it really is horrid stuff and for me it is at best a “making do” affair – with an inflated price! Now it might be ok if you don’t like food that much, but it is very disappointing if you love your food.
I made this as a kind of shortcrust pastry using gram flour, oil and a few spices to give a lovely flavour to the pastry. Not quite the “half fat to flour” ratio for traditional shortcrust but the oil ensures that the gram flour does not bake to a hard-to-chew crust!
The spices in the pastry (onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika) are optional, so thay can be omitted -and even without them you have a lovely crisp pastry.
I tend to buy onion powder and garlic powder (not granules!) in bulk either online or in the World Food aisle at the supermarket: much nicer and mich cheaper than the branded jarred spices.
Recipe: fresh tomato and basil tartlets (gluten-free) – makes 12
- 120g gram flour, plus extra to roll out
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable/sunflower oil)
- cold water to mix
To dust over the pastry cases:
- 3 teaspoons onion powder
- 3 teaspoons very finely grated Parmesan (or powdered Parmesan)
- about 200g fresh tomatoes – any type or a variety- chopped up (no need to skin them)
- 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- 1-2 teaspoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 teaspoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground salt and pepper
(1) Mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl and leave at room temperature while you make the pastry. The flavours will mingle gorgeously. This can be done a day or two ahead if you prefer.
(2) Make the pastry: put the gram flour and spices in a medium bowl and mix together. Add the oil and mix it in until you see no chunks of oil. Add enough cold water to give a soft but not sticky dough – add more gram flour if you have added too much water.
(3) Shape the dough into a ball and roll out thinly on well gram-floured work surface. Use a palette knife underneath from time to time to ensure no sticking. Cut out circles of dough using a pastry cutter and line a 12-hole tin (I use one that I use for mince pies). You can prick them with a fork if you want but I find they don’t rise up much in the oven.
(4) Bake in an oven pre-heated to 160C for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is a light brown and there are no damp patches. Remove from the tins and pop on a wire rack to cool fully.
(5) Mix the onion and Parmesan together and dust over the pastry cases.
(6) Spoon the tomato filling into each one, trying not to get much of the liquid that will have formed. Serve at room temperature (not chilled) to allow the flavours to shine.
NB: don’t throw away that liquid – it is precious stuff, with the real essence of tomato, basil and garlic: drink it (cook’s perk!)