A long with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, tomatoes and basil are among the all-time great Italian duos. We adore this happy couple in an insalata caprese, or on a margherita pizza—and we especially love them in this casually luxurious tart, redolent with the scents of summer no matter what time of year you choose to make it.
The individual components—puff pastry, roasted Romas, fragrant basil pesto and ricotta—are all well worth making in their own right, and will each find a place in your fridge or freezer as well as in your repertoire of go-to recipes. You won’t need a special tart tin, just an ordinary baking tray and a thoroughly preheated oven.
Have all your topping components out of the fridge and ready to go before you start cutting and rolling the pastry. This is especially important in hot weather, so that the pastry doesn’t become too warm and flabby as you assemble the topping: for this recipe, and any other involving puff pastry, you can be sure it will always puff best when cool pastry meets a hot oven.
This is a beautiful dish to serve at a smart lunch, with a leafy salad on the side and perhaps a little chilled pinot grigio in your wine glasses to amp up the Italian vibe. Salute!
- Heat the oven to 200C and place a baking tray on the centre shelf.
- Cut pastry crossways into 3. Keep the remaining two-thirds for another use, the pastry will freeze perfectly.
- Roll out to rectangle 32 centimetres x 11 centimetres, it should be 1/2 centimetre thick. Transfer the pastry to a piece of baking paper; this will later be transferred directly to the hot tray.
- Brush the pastry evenly and thoroughly with the beaten egg.
- Trim one side to create a raw edge; raw edges will always rise better. Mark a border 2 centimetres in from the raw edge by running a knife along, cutting only halfway through the pastry.
- Spread pesto down the length of the pastry inside the border in a strip 3 centimetres wide.
- Top the pesto with crumbled ricotta.
- Lay the tomatoes crossways on top of the ricotta, making sure they are really close to each other; don’t worry if it seems crowded.
- Finish the tart with the reverse process: mark a second border on the opposite side by running the knife down the pastry really close to the edge of the tomatoes. Then cut the outside edge 2 centimetres from the border. The tart will possibly look too narrow, unstable and the tomatoes a little precarious—this is a good thing, it will bake beautifully.
- Slide the baking paper onto the hot tray and bake the tart in the centre of the oven until well puffed and golden brown.
- Slice the tart into 4 and drizzle with roasting juices from the tomatoes.