Sunday, August 30, 2015

Provençal Tomato Wellington

I’ve been craving the summer pizzas I used to get in the south of France that are often called tomato tarts here.  We bought them at beach side patisseries, cut into square slabs and wrapped to go in waxy paper.  We ate them room--or rather beach—temperature.  The small Nicoise olives lent a saltiness that perfectly complimented the season's ripe tomatoes.

I stumbled across a simple tomato wellington recipe using Pepperidge Farm® puff pastry on their online recipe collection and thought that with a few extra ingredients this would satisfy my travel taste memory.  It turned out pretty close and makes a great vegetarian main entree or, if cut a little smaller, a nice side dish to grilled dinners. 

Now is the right time to make this dish.  Farmers markets are selling the last of the summer tomatoes on the cheap and their sweetness can stand up to oven roasting.  Later in the winter you can make Provençal Tomato Wellingtons with hardier Roma or plum tomatoes sliced in half and roasted low and slow to develop their sweetness. 

This recipe can be prepared through step 7 several hours ahead.  If you are having guests this is a nice option.  Goat cheese is used here but you can also use any soft cheese or a Swiss style (Gruyere for example).

Provençal Tomato Wellington
Serves 4

1 sheet puff pastry (about 8 ounces), defrosted
1 large beefsteak tomato
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence*
1 ounce goat cheese
4-6 black olives (Niçoise or oil cured work nicely)
2-3 anchovies (optional, but give it a try)
½ teaspoon capers

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Slice tomato in ½ inch slices.  Place on a lightly oiled sheet or pie plate and sprinkle with half the herbs de Provence and some salt and pepper.  
  2. Roast uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes are softened and have released much of their juice.  Set aside to cool.  
  3. Prepare pastry by placing on a floured board and rolling into a 12” square, cutting away any extra for another use.  Lay pastry onto a small sheet pan.  
  4. Crumble goat cheese over center of pastry, leaving a 1 inch edge at the top and bottom and 2-3 inches along the sides.  
  5. Cover cheese with cooked tomato slices.  Distribute olives, capers and anchovies over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle remaining herbs de Provence over filling.  
  6. Using a pastry brush or your finger, run a little water along the top and bottom edges of pastry.  Fold over one side of the pastry and seal edges.  Run a little more water along the long edge and fold over remaining side of pastry.  Use a knife to cut small slices through edges to ensure they are well sealed.  Next, make decorate slashes into pastry cutting through most of the pastry layers so it will puff nicely.  Cut through the pastry in several spots so that steam can escape during baking.  
  7. Cover wellington with loose plastic wrap and place sheet in refrigerator for at least half on hour (or up to several hours).  
  8. When ready to enjoy, preheat oven to 400˚F and remove plastic wrap from cold, unbaked tomato wellington.   At this stage you may brush some milk or a light egg wash over the top of the pastry to encourage browning.  
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until pastry is cooked through, crisped and golden-brown.  Remove wellington from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Slice into 3-inch slabs and serve over greens.  
They are also quite tasty cooled and served at room (or beach) temperature.