Friday, 9 September 2011

Tomato tart (Τάρτα ντομάτας)

This year (as opposed to last year, but very much like the year before last), we were blessed with a bountiful tomato crop. Tomato is one of the most important plant foods in my kitchen, because tomato sauces form a large base of the main meals that I cook. People who eat a fresh Cretan tomato for the first time in their life often say that they have never eaten a tomato so tasty or aromatic ever before. It's this freshness, grown on Cretan soil, that makes my food so tasty. If I cooked the same recipes elsewhere, where I had to buy tomatoes, I'm sure the meal wouldn't bear any resemblance to what I cook at home.

A quick look on the web revealed a range of tomato tart/pie recipes: a range of different crusts were used, as well as a range of different types of tomatoes. They all looked delicious and particular colourful, since some bloggers used a range of green, red, orange and yellow tomatoes in their pies. Tomato pairs well with cheese: some of the recipes included cheese, while others were vegan, making this pie very versatile. A bit of greenery (eg finely chopped basil, parsley, capers or purslane) really suits this kind of pie, not only for the colour contrast, but also to add a bit of zing to the tomato taste.

tomato slices
I preserve tomatoes in a range of ways: bottled with spices, frozen (with liquids drained), hollowed into shells (for yemista), and sliced (ready for pizzas/pies).

It's not too late for a tomato recipe in early autumn. Tomatoes are planted in Crete out in the open from April until August and keep growing until Christmas. They make great preserves and are the most versatile plant-based food in Greek cuisine. I chose to make a simple tomato pizza pie using my regular pizza base.

You need:
a dose of ladenia pizza dough
about 10 firm plum tomatoes (garden-fresh tomatoes
50-100g of cheese (optional)
olive oil
salt and oregano

tomato tart

Make the ladenia pizza dough according to the instructions. After allowing the dough to rise, spread it onto a baking tin. Slice the tomatoes thickly (about 0.5cm thick). Lay them tightly side by side over the dough base. Drizzle some olive oil over them, then sprinkle with salt and oregano. If using the cheese, sprinkle it over the tomatoes - it really doesn't need very much, just for the taste. Cook the tomato tart for as long as the dough needs cooking - about half an hour in a moderate-hot oven.\

tomato tart served

This tomato tart is so simple in taste; it's better than bread, and goes with any salad. A glass of good white wine to go with it, and you will think you are eating with the gods.

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