Ah yes, that family barbecue last August, when I thought I was being entirely rational in what I was cooking:
- my go-to puff pastry appetizer, from John Bishop and Dennis Green’s cookbook, Simply Bishop’s: Easy Seasonal Recipes
- smokies on the barbecue, with baked tomatoes, caramelized onions and a couple of mustard choices on the side
- fresh berries and ice cream for dessert
How hard could that be?
And then, as usual, I found myself running behind, all because I’d been diverted by a very big, very inexpensive bag of only slightly soft tomatoes that I found in Granville Island Market that morning.
Since I’d just been looking at the slow-roasted tomatoes recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine, it seemed like Fate had stepped in, and I’d better play my part.
I can’t say I’m sorry, even though, as usual, I had to press you into service in the kitchen.
Roasted tomatoes have been a revelation, and they just keep getting better and more useful as the months go by.
Even on the first night, they showed some sign of what was ahead.
I started out thinking of them as a relish for the smokies, but they looked and smelled so good that they crept into the puff pastry recipe too.
At the time I thought they’d be seasonal, a use for over-ripe tomatoes in August and September.
But it turns out that over-ripe tomatoes show up all year long. In the past, I stopped buying tomatoes in the winter, because they aren’t very good, and I don’t feel like eating them in cold weather.
But now that I roast them, tomatoes in winter are a whole different food. Whenever I see soft ones, deeply discounted, I stock up.
Like you, I’ve stopped using the cup of olive oil, and I love your tip about pressing the liquid out halfway through cooking to redistribute it in the pan.
So now I’m using your roast tomato recipe. Funny how that works.
Here’s the recipe for the puff pastry appetizer, with a few changes from John Bishop’s recipe: baked tomatoes instead of the romas he calls for, and basil pesto instead of olive oil and chopped fresh basil.
- 8 ounces frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 small red onion
- 8 ounces roasted tomatoes
- 4 teaspoons basil pesto
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish, rolled and cut into chiffonade
- Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to form an eight-inch square, 1/8th of an inch thick.
- Cut into four four-inch squares. Prick pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Peel onion and slice as thinly as possible, preferably with a mandolin.
- Brush pastry squares with pesto.
- Press any extra liquid out of baked tomatoes. Arrange tomatoes in a layer.
- Place a layer of onion slices over the baked tomatoes and top with grated Asiago cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a grinding of black pepper.
- Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake until pastry is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
- To serve, place each tart on a warmed plate and garnish with basil threads.
And for ways they’ve moved into my life:
- angel hair pasta with caramelized onions, prosciutto, Italian parsley and a sprinkling of goat cheese
- cheddar cheese omelette with basil or chiives
- with green beans and caramelized onions
By the way, thanks for the tip on refreezing puff pastry. I bought a one-pound package from Whole Foods, and only used half when I last made the Warm tomato and Asiago Tart.
But I rolled it all out, and cut it into squares. I froze the extra on a cookie sheet and then slipped them into a freezer bag.
This is dangerous knowledge – I’ve already whipped up a quick mango puff-pastry tart, just because I had a mango, and with the puff pastry all ready in the freezer I knew it would take no time at all.