i really enjoyed making this tart – after another couple of weeks away from home it was the perfect thing to spend time on and to get me resettled in my kitchen.
it’s a rowley leigh recipe and was meant to have anchovies on as the finishing touch. this was a large part of what drew me to it but which i couldn’t include as the tin i had (smoked anchovies which it took me an age to track down just before we left london - brindisa at borough market occasionally stock them, in case you also want some) exploded as i opened it and i didn’t want to risk eating them in case they had gone off. the smell of smokey fish oil that was all over my face and clothes also put me off.
however that’s not the point of this dish - the pleasure for me came with slowly making it. taking my time to make pastry; to slowly cook fennel until it softened; to slice tomatoes, salt and then dry them so they wouldn’t make the tart soggy. slowly assembling the tart – pasty thick enough to handle and not worry about it splitting; fennel pureed with cream and egg yolks which is then baked in the pastry case until is develops a gentle custard texture; laying out the sliced tomatoes on the tart and then finishing it with basil leaves and a drizzle of grassy olive oil.
i don’t think it’s a perfect recipe – the pastry was a little soggy as i didn’t check it had cooked through enough as part of the blind-baking (this was when the anchovy incident occurred and i had to take a quick shower); i’d probably roast the tomatoes next time so that their flavour is even more concentrated; and of course there are the missing anchovies.
still, it was a pleasure to make and a pleasure to eat – the mild creamy fennel flavour and the sharpness of the tomatoes work really well together and i’ve enjoyed eating the leftovers – scooping the filling out of the pastry case and spreading it on rye crackers. which in turn prompts thoughts of vegetable pates of other sorts – perhaps something to try on another day.