Tomato Tatin

Very easy to make, and excellent with fresh, very ripe tomatoes from the garden. If buying tomatoes, choose plum tomatoes for preference.

2 kg ripe tomatoes
pastry (see below)
3-4tbsp pesto
100g couscous (optional)
1 bunch fresh basil
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

You can buy quite good-quality ready-rolled flaky pastry in French supermarkets, and I often use this for tatins. But you could equally make some buttery shortcrust and use that.

Preheat the oven to 240C (gas 8). Wash the tomatoes, cut in half lengthways, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the tomatoes in a single layer (in two batches if necessary) so that they soften a bit — on no account should they disintegrate. Arrange them in a suitable cake tin. Salt, pepper, and distribute the pesto and/or some chopped basil over the top.

Cover with pastry, tucking the edges down inside the tin, and make a central slit with a knife to let the steam out. Cook for ten minutes, then lower the heat to 180C (gas 6) and cook for a further 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Remove from the oven, leave to stand for 5 minutes, then put a serving plate over the top, hold the two together firmly with oven-gloved hands, and turn the whole thing upside down to turn it out. Decorate with basil leaves and eat hot, warm (best) or cold.

Note: After I’d made this I realised that I was supposed to sprinkle 100g of couscous over the tomatoes before putting the pastry on. Presumably this is intended to soak up the juice and stop the pastry from going soggy. However, it wasn’t in the least soggy and the slightly caramelised juices were delicious. So feel free to leave it out! In fact I left the pesto out as well because I didn’t have any — I just used fresh basil.

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