- to see, find, or become aware of (something) for the first time
- to learn or find out (something surprising or unexpected)
Life is about discovering and food is one of those great discoveries. From an early age we are fed puréed food, finger foods, morsels of this and that, and we gradually discover what we like and don’t like. As we grow, so do our taste buds: we start to develop a taste for more spices, for stronger flavours and for more unusual foods. As a child brought up on a fairly banal diet, where the closest we got to ‘foreign’ was half a teaspoon of curry powder stirred through some mayonnaise, my journey of discovery has been enormous and is still ongoing.
In recent years I have started this blog, not necessarily for other people at first, but more as a way of recording my cookery adventures for my own personal reference. I have challenged my taste buds with new ingredients and have cooked and eaten things I would never have thought of a few years ago. Strong flavours play a key part in my cookery and I often take inspiration from one key ingredient and build a recipe around it. For me, food cookery is all about experimentation: pushing boundaries; exploring flavour combinations and tasting new foods; as well as revamping traditional recipes with new and exciting ingredients or methods. I’m also very much in favour of eating a healthy, balanced diet and am very conscious of trying to include superfoods and healthy ingredients in my cookery wherever possible.
This week I discovered a whole range of unearthed® products in the chilled aisle in my local Waitrose. unearthed® have a fabulous ethos: they aim to offer ordinary people like you and I the chance to discover an exciting range of world foods at an affordable price. Their ingredients are sourced from passionate producers who uphold traditional family methods, and they are also committed to supporting Action Against Hunger by donating from every product sold.
I singled out a packet of unearthed® Oven Roasted Sun Drenched Tomatoes, which are ready to eat and looked extremely inviting. They would be amazingly good as part of an antipasti platter, or scattered over a salad or some pasta. Cooking tomatoes has recently been found to bring out more of the antioxidant lycopene which may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, so I tend to incorporate cooked tomatoes as often as possible in my recipes.
Today I decided to push the boundaries of flavours a little further and make a savoury tarte tatin rather than a traditional sweet apple one. The result was an outstandingly delicious tart, with an amazingly piquant flavour – the slight tartness of the tomatoes and the sticky sweetness of the shallots combined beautifully with lovely flaky pastry, all enhanced with a peppery rocket and feta cheese topping. It would make a superb lunch, but would be equally good as a starter for a dinner party or served in small slices as a canapé.
Sun Roasted Sun-drenched Tomato Tarte Tatin
(Serves 4 as a lunch or 6 as a starter)
1 pack unearthed® slow roasted sun-drenched tomatoes
3 banana shallots, peeled
75g caster sugar
50g salted butter
40ml Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp runny honey
A few sprigs of thyme
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry (this recipe uses approx 200g)
An ovenproof dish and a 23cm loose bottom tin.
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Combine the sugar, Balsamic vinegar, butter, honey and sea salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer & stir continuously for 3-5 minutes, until a slightly thickened caramel liquid is achieved. Season with black pepper. Set aside.
Peel and halve the banana shallots from top to bottom and place in the oven proof dish. Pour the caramel liquid over and scatter with the thyme.
Cover tightly with foil and roast for approximately 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the caramel has thickened. Carefully turn the shallots half way through the cooking time – if they are fully immersed in the caramel, this can be omitted.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Turn the oven up to 180C.
Line the tin with greaseproof paper so the paper comes at least 6cm above the base of the tin to prevent any caramel escaping. TIP: This is most easily done by scrunching a sheet of greaseproof paper and then flattening it out again- it fits into the edges of the tin much more easily.
Arrange the shallots in the tin and then fill in the gaps with the sun drenched tomatoes. Consider the presentation of the finished dish- the entire thing will be inverted onto a plate when it’s cooked so the bottom of the tin at this stage will eventually be the top of the tarte.
Remove the thyme and then pour the caramel over the tomatoes and shallots.
Cut a circle of pastry about 1cm larger than the tin and lay over the top of the tomatoes and shallots. Carefully tuck the edges down the side of the tin – a spoon handle is my go-to tool for this.
Bake at 180C for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. If the pastry has risen too much because of steam from the caramel, carefully pierce it with a cocktail stick and press back down gently.
Allow to rest for at least ten minutes, then place a plate over the tin and invert so the tart falls pastry side down onto the plate. Remove the greaseproof paper and serve warm with rocket and crumbled goat’s or feta cheese.