Tomato, pea and cheese mini tarts

The conservatory is a jungle. The Husband has gone overboard with tomatoes. When I manage to get out the back door I feel like I should do a victory lap round the garden accompanied with a triumphant air punch. He’s been eating them straight off the plant but neither man nor woman can live on tomatoes alone (although it does seem like we’ve been giving it a good try lately). I’m not complaining. There’s nothing quite like plucking a plump, bright red ripe tomato, still warm from the sun, and inhaling that pungent fresh picked tomato smell. This recent tomato takeover has prompted me to consider a range of ways to use up the humble tom. Here are a few ideas (some tried and tested and some not) for ways to use up your summer tomato glut:

1. Curry – as in tomatoes are the main event and not a supporting act to meat of some sort. Ok, so it’s a bit tomato heavy but it’s warming and comforting and very tasty. I use the recipe in The Kitchen Dairies by Nigel Slater.
2. Tart – so many options here: shortcrust or puff. With egg filling or without egg filling. I made without egg recently using the recipe in 101 seasonal treats by Olive magazine: make a cheese pastry. Line a springform tin and freeze for 15 mins. Spread base with mustard. Mix roasted tomatoes with red chilli, garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Fill the tart case. Bake at 160°C for 30 mins then at 140°C for 40 mins. I know that’s a bit of an epic time in the oven but it is worth it.

Tomato tart
3. Soup – not made this for a while. The Husband tells me off if I try and make soup before at least September. The ultimate comfort food especially if you make it cream of.
4. Chutney or jam – I’ve never made chutney or jam but I hope to give it a try one day. I’m slightly apprehensive about preserving, pickling or jamming anything. It’s the risk of spoiling that puts me off. Imagine – you’ve just spent hours (I imagine it takes hours) preparing a bountiful harvest of something, you’ve sterilised your jars, and you’ve let it blip away on the stove for an eternity. All it takes is a teeny tiny bit of something that’s not supposed to be there and the whole batch is ruined. I’ll give it a go when I’m a bit braver.
5. Butter – tomato what? I’ve not tried it (yet) but I’m intrigued. As seen recently on the Kitchn website. There’s lots of different ways to use it and you can freeze it too. I’m definitely going to give this a go.
6. Sauce for pasta – Make a big batch, freeze in portions and never buy ready made pasta sauce again! Sooooooo easy. Cook garlic and onion in olive oil for a bit, add your chopped tomatoes, maybe throw a bit of anchovy in as well (don’t worry, if you chop them small they add flavour but you can’t tell they’re in there!) or capers (I love capers). Add oregano, season with salt and pepper and allow to reduce and thicken, check seasoning.

I make mini tomato, pea and cheese tarts. I like it when food gets scaled down. Mini tarts, doughnuts, muffins and tiny soup pasta. For a moment I feel like a giant and I have to resist slow motion clumping round the kitchen in an ungainly fashion. The inspiration for my tarts is a sundried tomato, broad bean and goats cheese tart recipe. I don’t have sundried tomatoes, broad beans and I’m not keen on goats cheese so I make some adjustments. Also my tins are smaller than the recipe so I get more tarts out of it. I guess what I’m trying to say is use the equipment and ingredients you have and make adjustments to suit yourself. There’s really no need to be confined by the recipe (I can’t believe I just said that. I didn’t mean it. I worship the recipe). And just to prove it here’s mine:

Mini tomato, pea and cheese tarts
Makes 6

320g sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry
2 eggs beaten
100 ml double cream
12 small tomatoes
60 g frozen peas
6 – 12 basil leaves depending on their size
50 g cheese – I used cheddar and then sprinkled a bit of parmesan on the top
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the pastry into squares, line 6 x 8cm round x 2 cm deep tart tins with removable bases and chill for 15 mins. Put the tins on a baking tray and bake blind for 15 mins. Remove the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 – 10 mins until the pastry is dried and golden. Prepare filling ingredients: halve the tomatoes, blanch the peas for a minute, roughly chop the basil and grate the cheese. Divide filling ingredients between tart tins. Mix the eggs and cream, season and pour into the pastry cases. Finish with a sprinkle of cheese. Bake for 15 – 20 mins or until the tarts are set. Allow to cool for 10 mins then remove from the tins.

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