The living is easy: Tomato and goat's cheese tarts to impress
Simple yet satisfying seasonal recipes from Theresa Storey whose latest book, Fruit on the Table, is published this month
Tomato and goat's cheese tarts
We have these tarts quite often in the summer when I'm harvesting gazillions of deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes from the greenhouse. I usually buy puff pastry as it's almost as good as home-made and because I seldom have the time or inclination to make it from scratch. I use a green basil pesto, but you can try it with smoked sundried tomato pesto or any kind of pesto you have. Makes 9 tarts.
You will need
500g (18oz) package of puff pastry
2-3 tbsp (heaped) pesto
200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes (halved or quartered)
200g (7oz) log of soft goat's cheese (sliced into 6mm/¼-inch rounds)
1 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).
2 Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 3mm thick. Cut into 9 equal pieces (as square as possible) and then score a square with a knife 2.5 cm (1 inch) inside the edge of each piece, cutting halfway through the dough.
3 Inside this scored square, spread about half a teaspoon of pesto.
4 Divide the tomatoes and cheese between the tarts. Sprinkle a few pine nuts on each, if you are using them.
5 Place the tarts onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the pastry is risen and golden brown.
6 Take the tarts out of the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Variations: If you don't like goat's cheese, you can substitute mozzarella or cheddar.
We all have those days in summer when you can't face another salad. Maybe it's rainy or overcast or you just need something good and hearty. I got this recipe from my friend Cathy back when my kids were little. We had a gazillion cucumbers taking over my polytunnel, and the kids simply couldn't eat another slice of fresh cucumber. I don't know why I had never thought of cooking them, because I cook courgettes and they are similar. Cathy assured me it was delicious, so we gave it a try - and she was so right. It's fresh-tasting but also very filling.
Makes 3-4 servings.
You will need
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 large potato (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
2 large cucumbers (peeled, deseeded and cut into 1-inch cubes)
900ml (1½ pints) vegetable stock
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp soft butter
Salt and pepper
Garnish: chopped fresh mint or other summer herbs and either fresh cream, yoghurt or sour cream
1 In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
2 Add the potato and cucumber. Cook until they are just starting to turn golden brown along the edges.
3 Add the stock and cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cucumber and potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat.
4 Mash the flour and butter together in a bowl, then whisk this into the stew to thicken it.
5 Put the stew back on the heat and bring it to the boil for a minute to cook up the flour.
6 Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with some fresh mint or other summer herbs. Add either a drizzle of fresh cream, a dollop of yoghurt or a spoon of sour cream. Serve with hot crusty bread. Yum.
To make a chicken version, replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock and add two chopped cooked chicken breasts to the finished stew. If you would like a gluten-free stew, use either cornflour, a carton of crème fraîche or yoghurt to thicken the stew instead of flour.