Umami is often referred to as the “fifth taste” alongside salt, sweet, sour and bitter, and is essentially a deep savoury flavour which really helps to intensify other ingredients. Think parmesan, anchovies, soy sauce and wild mushrooms.
This recipe is for a delicious summery tart which recently featured on my menu at Mash Up Sunday, but with the addition of poppy seeds in the pastry for added pizazz! Despite several different stages to making this tart, it is well worth the effort, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon in the sun spent with friends and family!
British tomatoes are one of my favourite things about summer, and living on the Essex/Suffolk border we have a number of great local tomato growers. I’ve been using Lawford baby plum tomatoes, supplied by Keepers Nursery- but even better still, use homegrown.
The secret to this dish is the layer upon layer of flavour-buttery parmesan pastry, piquant umami tapenade, sweet onions and aromatic fennel, tomatoes, and to finish it all off a fresh pesto dressing and lashings of salty grated parmesan.
Pulse the flour and butter together in a food processor briefly, then add the cheese and seeds. One tablespoon at a time add cold water, pulse until the pastry just comes together (not too sticky or dry). Wrap in cling film and chill till needed.
Whizz all ingredients in a food processor, till smooth but with a little texture still (you do not want a paste).
Not a very exact recipe, but pesto is all about tasting and adapting to your liking!The key is balance.
Whizz the nuts till finely ground, add the herbs and garlic,Whizz again then add the cheese, and gradually incorporate the oil and vinegar till a dressing like consistency. Season to taste with lemon juice/salt/pepper.
Preheat your oven to 160c, Roast the onion and fennel with a good drizzle of oil, for 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender.
Halve the tomatoes, season and drizzle with olive oil, and roast for 40mins to an hour.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Line a large circular flan/tart tin with baking parchment.
Roll out your pastry till 1 cm thick and push the pastry into the tin (allow a little overhang as the pastry will shrink slightly).
Bake blind for 20 mins, then uncovered for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Now for the assembly job; spoon the tapenade onto the base of the tart and spread evenly. Then arrange the fennel and onions on top, season. Now place the tomatoes /facing upwards on top.
Season again, then spoon on a tablespoon or so of the pesto dressing.
Finish with a grating of parmesan and freshly torn fennel and serve with some buttered jersey royals and greens.