the table, at the midpoint
star of earth,
its remarkable amplitude
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
Putting its sheer magnetism aside for a moment, if the onion is the vegetable that can make you weep, the tomato is most certainly the one that can make you smile. The moment you lay eyes on a basketful of bright, ripe, red tomatoes, you can't help but get happy!
Tomatoes never fail to conjure up memories of childhood holidays at our hideaway paradise next to the sea on the wild western coast of the Cape Peninsular. The fisherman’s wife who brought us the catch of the day each evening would often bring a big basket of her freshly harvested vegetables for us to choose from as well. Late into the summer, her bounty included luscious, tangy smelling tomatoes. My mother would cut up the luscious jewels and mix them with fresh basil, oregano, and thinly-slithered onions, then drizzle them with olive oil. We'd gorge on bowls of tomatoes served with Italian bread while sitting outside at the old wooden table under the shade of a tamarisk tree. It didn’t matter one jot how much of the sweet, oily juices dribbled down your chin.
Here is the quickest and easiest and yummiest recipe for a tomato tart ever! Try it this weekend and they’ll love you ‘til next Friday evening. Guaranteed.
Take 110g/4oz puff pastry
1 beef tomato, cut into slices
Handful of fresh basil leaves
55-85g/2-3 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
Several Niçoise (or Kalmata) olives, pitted
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to season
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Then roll the pastry out thinly on a floured surface. Next, cut a large circle out and place on a non-stick baking tray. Crumple the edges of the pastry roughly using your fingers. Pop the tomato slices in the middle of the pastry circle, fling over the olives, drizzle with oil and then top with the basil. Sprinkle the cheese over and season with black pepper. Finally, brush the edges of the tart using the egg wash and then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp and golden.