Moving into Spring gets people thinking and planning dinner parties again, so I often get asked for easy yet tasty ideas that have more than one purpose. In this case, these delicious tarts can be a starter or a vegetarian main course. For those of you not yet familiar with black garlic (also called fermented garlic), it’s a type of caramelised garlic first used as a food ingredient in Asian Cuisine. It is made by heating whole bulbs of garlic, using a very low heat over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar.
INGREDIENTS (makes 6)
18 Cherry tomatoes
454g (1lb) Red onions, finely sliced
150g (6oz) Goats cheese cut into 6 slices
25g (1oz) butter
Six sage leaves finely chopped
1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
18 Black Garlic cloves
1Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Cloves garlic (very finely chopped)
1 Dessert spoon clear honey
150g (6oz) Plain flour
75g (3oz) Unsalted butter
25g (1oz) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp water
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and rub with half of the olive oil.
- Season, lightly roast them in the bottom of the oven at 140 C (gas mark 1) until very tender and very slightly caramelised and allow to cool.
- Make the pastry by rubbing together the butter and the flour, add the Parmesan cheese and just enough ice water to bring the pastry together.
- Let the pastry rest for 30 minutes before rolling out.
- In the meantime melt 25g (1oz) butter, add the red onions and cook on a gentle heat adding the finely chopped normal garlic stirring from time to time.
- Once the red onions are very soft add 12 of the black garlic cloves (roughly chopped) 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, the chopped sage and cook on a very low heat until the balsamic has evaporated, then allow onions to cool season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Butter 6 x 4″ mini flan cases (4″ wide by 1″ deep) ones with removable bottoms are best.
- Roll out the rested pastry as thinly as you can and then blind bake* the pastry cases for 15 minutes at 180 C gas mark 4.
- Remove the parchment and rice and bake a further 5 minutes just until they begin to go brown.
- When the pastry cases are cool remove from their flan cases and divide the roasted tomatoes between the 6 tarts.
- Next, fill the cases with the caramelised onions mix.
- Line a baking tray (that will fit into your grill) with parchment paper and then place the 6 slices of goat’s cheese. Use a pastry brush and brush a tiny bit of clear honey on each slice.
Put the filled tarts into a warm oven 100 C gas mark 1 Grill the slices of goat’s cheese carefully under a hot grill, just until they begin to melt. Top each warm tart with a slice of goat’s cheese and decorate each tart with the remaining 6 cloves of black garlic. Serve with a crisp salad and finish with a splash of olive oil and reduced balsamic if you wish.
*Blind baking is when you line your pastry case with a parchment circle and then weigh it down with raw rice to stop the pastry rising as it cooks. The reason for the honey is to help brown the goat’s cheese faster.
These days in the UK black garlic is available in several supermarkets and even on Amazon. Please remember the sizes of the cloves vary so 12 mixed with the red onions and six more to top the finished tarts with is not as much as it seems, and soon like me you’ll be experimenting with black garlic all over the place.