A serving of Alan
FOOD & DRINK: ALAN ROSENTHAL
As the sun sets on summer , Q&C’s Alan has the perfect way to use up those plum juicy tomatoes with this easily prepared French galette.
Tomatoes take on a whole new lease of life in the summer months. One of the joys of summer holidays and private cheffing in France and Spain was the incredible variety of tomatoes you can find out there. I love the most gnarly kind, the ones that worked the hardest to survive the scorching heat of the southern Med; they’re always the fruitiest.
Although the tomatoes produced in this country are improving, you can never quite match the flavour that comes from longer on the vine under the blistering sun.
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I'm careful to keep some of my tomatoes out of the fridge, that way they continue to ripen and aren't too cold when I eat them, which dulls their flavour. I like simple tomato salads where I season the tomatoes ahead of time with salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, allowing the juices to flow. I might simply add some good vinegar just before serving (perhaps a Valdespino sherry vinegar, or a not too sweet aged balsamic), with some finely sliced red onion; or I may simply eat the tomatoes as they are, simply salted and dressed with olive oil on some good bread and butter.
A galette is a brilliant way to eat these tomatoes. It looks impressive, is portable, and the pastry is quite forgiving so you don’t need to be overly concerned with soggy bottoms! You simply roll out your pastry, cut it into a circle and cover with whatever filling you choose before simply folding the edges over and baking; it works for both sweet and savoury options and really is less fiddly than a normal tart baked in a tin.
Heritage tomato & roast garlic with tarragon & basil oil
For the roast garlic
2 small heads of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
For the pastry
250g plain flour
150g cold unsalted butter
50g Parmesan, grated
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
For the filling & glaze
750g assorted heritage tomatoes
3 tbsp dried polenta
Extra virgin olive oil
1 egg yolk
For the herb oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped basil
½ tsp chopped oregano
½ tsp tarragon
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
First, roast the garlic. Remove the dry papery leaves from the bulb and then, using a sharp knife, cut across the heads of garlic, about 1/2 cm from the tips of the cloves, keeping the root intact so it holds the cloves together. Next place the heads, cut side up, on some tinfoil, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap in the tinfoil, place on an oven tray and roast in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the pastry. Put the flour, salt, grated Parmesan and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blend for a minute or so until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and pieces of butter can no longer be seen. Turn off the food processor. Next, crack the egg into a small jug and break it up with a fork. Turn the machine on again and, with the blade running, pour the egg in through the feeding tube in 2 batches. After the first batch, turn off the machine and give everything a mix to break up any sticky bits, aiming to distribute the egg evenly. Add the rest of the egg, and pulse the mixture a few times. You shouldn’t need to blend each addition of egg for more than 15 seconds Blend until just combined and the pastry starts to form little balls in the mixer bowl. If it still feels dry then add a few drops of cold water. Try not to blend for too long otherwise the pastry will become tough.
Transfer the mixture to a board and push all the pastry together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax.
Once the garlic is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use your fingers to squeeze the flesh out from their protective skins. Keep to one side.
Once the pastry has relaxed, remove from the fridge. Dust a large flat surface with a little flour and roll the pastry out to a rough circle, a little larger than 30cm across - it should be around the thickness of a pound coin.
Next, if you have a 30cm pan lid, use it as a guide to cut a smooth circle out of your pastry (alternatively go free hand or cut out a circle of grease proof paper. Transfer the pastry circle to a baking sheet and pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up again.
Remove the cores from your tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes across the circumference into 5mm thick slices.
Remove the pastry from the fridge. Sprinkle the polenta across the surface. The polenta will soak up excess tomato juices and prevent it from going soggy. Now, keeping a border of 6cm from the edge of the pastry, arrange the sliced tomatoes in overlapping circles, tucking pieces of roasted garlic in between some of the slices and regularly sprinkling them with freshly ground black pepper.
Turn the edges of the pastry up over the tomatoes. You’ll have overlapping parts and some bits may crack. Don’t worry about this, galettes are meant to be rustic and you can always squeeze any cracks together if needs be. Return the galette to the fridge for 10 minutes so the pastry has a chance to firm up and relax once more.
After fridge time, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and pop the galette in the oven for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the egg yolk and 1 tbsp. olive oil for your pastry glaze. Mix the oil with the chopped herbs and season with a little salt.
After 35 minutes, the tomatoes should have shrunk and started to turn a little golden at the edges. The pastry should be light golden. If it seems to be cooking too fast, turn the oven down a little for the next stage. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Using a pastry brush, brush all the exposed parts of the pastry with the egg yolk and oil mix. This will create a beautiful golden shiny finish. Be careful not to allow the glaze to drip down the side of the pastry as it will then stick to the oven tray and your tart could break when you try to remove it later on.
Pop the tart back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is shiny and golden and the tomatoes shrunk with dark edges. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool slightly and drizzle with the herb oil.
Follow Alan on Instagram at @alan.rosenthal or visit www.alanrosenthal.co.uk