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An almost perfect tomato tart

"Use of lime juice, tomatoes and spice in some recipes is amazing!"

An Amazon reviewer

I've spoken about tomato tarts before - how difficult it is because of all the juice they ooze. But I keep trying and last night I made this - Tomato and lime galette with crunchy spelt chipotle pastry from Ixta Belfrage's book Mecla. I have now made three or four recipes from this book and they have all been divine - so treat yourself. Rush out and buy one. If the dictum that a publisher considers a cookbook a success if two recipes are made from it, then this is more than a success. David and I gave it 4 1/2 stars last night. I think it didn't quite get 5 because the base of the pastry was just a bit soggy. It is just so difficult not for this to happen, when you're dealing with juicy tomatoes.

The recipe is not online and so I 'm going to take you through it bit by bit, step by step. It's actually pretty simple, but you might be deterred by the list of ingredients and the length - it goes over two pages in the book. That's because it consists of three different bits - plus garnish - the pastry, the tomatoes and the ricotta/yoghurt base. I'm probably breaking copyright by giving the recipe, but I justify this by the fact that I am urging you to go and buy the book. This is not the only amazing recipe in the book.

I know I don't usually include an actual recipe but that's what others do, so I thought I'd give it a try. You can skip it if you like - there's a bit more rambling after it.

The book is divided into two sections - Everyday and Entertaining and this is from the Entertaining section - due, I suppose to the length. But it's also very open to a get ahead kind of approach - well you can make the pastry in advance - even the day before and the rest is relatively simple. Well it's all simple. I'll comment a bit as I go through.

The pastry - the most complicated bit - so you could just use any old pastry you have made or bought if you don't feel like tackling it. The difficulty is not in making it, but rolling it out the way you should and not having it all fall apart or stick to the bench in the process. Use plenty of flour to dust everything you are using when you are rolling.

Ingredients - 90g unsalted butter in one piece, frozen - for at least 30 minutes. Do note the 'frozen' bit. I almost didn't. But it is a bit vital. As to the one piece - well it's hard to judge the weight so I ended up with two bits - which was fine.

120g wholemeal/dark spelt flour plus extra for dusting (or regular wholemeal flour). And readers I did use wholemeal spelt flour, but I'm not sure whether it made any difference or not. Probably a bit precious.

40g quick-cook polenta - I don't know whether mine was quick-cook or not - I just used whatever I got from the supermarket - the cheapest available.

2 1/2 teaspoons soft light brown sugar or caster sugar - I used the brown

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

About 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chipotle flakes - well I only had ordinary chilli flakes and I used a bit less because of David's aversion to chilli.

20g olive oil

70g ice-cold water - I forgot to put this in the fridge, so mine was just cold

1 egg, whisked, for brushing the pastry


You need to start this at least an hour plus a bit more to mix it and roll out, before you plan to cook. Hence her advice to make well in advance. I made mine around lunchtime.

Put flour, polenta, sugar, salt, pepper and chipotle flakes into a large bowl and stir to combine. Remove the butter from the freezer and grate, using the large holes of a box grater (or chop into small pieces). Add to the bowl (I did mine into the bowl itself - much easier) along with the oil and water. Bring together into a ball but don't overwork the dough - you want visible pieces of butter throughout. My ball was a bit moist and sticky. I don't know whether it was supposed to be or not but I did stick to the quantities given.

Dust your work surface with flour, then tip the pastry ball out on to it. Roll into an A4 size rectangle, flouring everything as you go so that it doesn't stick. Fold the shorter end of the pastry to meet in the middle, roll out, then fold the longer sides to meet in the middle and roll out again. Fold the pastry in half, roll out once more, then shape into a smooth round disc, approximately 12cm wide. Cover tightly with cling foil and freeze for 30 minutes. If you're getting ahead with the pastry and making it more than 30 minutes ahead, keep it in the fridge. Which I did.

Flour the pastry once more and roll the pastry out into a rough 30cm wide circle or oval. Transfer it to a large, parchment-lined baking tray that will fit into your fridge then refrigerate for 30 minutes - while you prepare the filling.

Heat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C. - I did this halfway through preparing the ingredients, while the pastry was resting in the fridge. The preparation took me a little more than 30 minutes.

The ricotta yoghurt

Ingredients - 80g full-fat ricotta; 80g Greek-style yoghurt; 1/2 small clove garlic, finely grated/crushed; 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest; 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 5g fresh chives finely chopped - this is quite a lot of chives; 1/4 teaspoon fine salt - Nothing complicated here.

Method - also not complicated - just mix it all together.

The tomatoes

600g ripe tomatoes (preferably a mix of colours and sizes); 1 banana shallot, thinly sliced into rounds; 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 jalapeño finely chopped (optional) - I just chopped a quarter of one - again because of David; 1-2 limes (1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons juice) - 1 was enough for me; 1/2 teaspoon fine salt; 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.


Cut the tomatoes into random bite-sized pieces and place in a separate bowl with everything else and mix together.

Assembly and cooking

Remove the tray from the fridge and spread the ricotta mixture over the pastry leaving a 4cm rim around the edge. Top the ricotta yoghurt with half the marinated tomatoes, avoiding the liquid - I used a slotted spoon to remove them from the marinade - and leaving the 4cm rim uncovered.

Fold the edges over the filling, brush the exposed pastry with egg, then bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway. (Oops I forgot to do this). Leave to cool for 10 minutes. - I think I only left it for 5 but David was hungry and drooling over what was to come.

To serve

5 g fresh basil; 2 spring onions, julienned (15g) - I didn't weigh either of these ingredients; 1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional) - I left this out; 1/4 teaspoon chipotle flakes - these too although I had meant to sprinkle some on my portion, but forgot.

Prepare these things while the galette is cooking.

Arrange the rest of the fresh tomatoes on top of the roasted tomatoes. Drizzle over a couple of teaspoons of the tomato marinade. Top with the basil, spring onions, jalapeño and chipotle flakes. Finish with extra virgin olive oil, flaked salt and black pepper and serve. Oops forgot the salt and pepper.

And voilà - here is my finished product. A bit smaller in size than hers I think and so the tomatoes were piled a bit higher. Next time I'll try and roll the pastry out a bit thinner I think, although it was fairly tricky to handle being prone to break. I had to roll it round my rolling pin to get it on to the tray.

Honestly though, it doesn't look too bad and it tasted pretty amazing. The lime and the cumin just came through enough to taste but not overpower and it gave it all such a fresh taste which was heightened by those fresh tomatoes on top at the end. I thought that was a bit weird when I read it, but yes it really worked. So give it a go. It really isn't difficult - you just need to plan a bit.

I checked online to see if anybody else had done anything similar, and yes there are a number of different versions out there, but here are just two from professionals: Yotam Ottolenghi was, of course, Ixta Belfrage's mentor and he does have his own Tomato galette, but it's not nearly as original or subtle. He uses puff pastry and spreads a spiced tomato paste on the bottom and then some goat's cheese. I guess the idea of these things is to stop the tomato juice leaking into the pastry and making it soggy. Then there's Claire Thomson who blocks the bottom of hers with fried onions, then courgettes and tarragon, before slicing the tomatoes on top for her Tomato, courgette and tarragon galette. Looks lovely though. I've also added in somebody else's attempt at Ixta Belfrage's recipe. It almost looks as if she didn't add the fresh tomatoes but maybe she did.

Anyway I was quite proud of mine and the good news is that we only ate half of it. I did consider making a smaller half-sized one but thought that it might not work. I should try it sometime though. Monday's dinner sorted. David, quite rightly I think, is worried that cooking it with the fresh tomatoes on top will spoil it - the basil and spring onions too will end up cooked. Or we could eat it cold. No I don't think that will work either. Maybe I could somehow remove the topping before reheating?

Probably boring to plough through all of that, but I really wanted to share this recipe. And so far no fan has reproduced it online. Give it time though and somebody will I'm sure.

The recipe on the previous page of the book looks intriguing and rather wonderful too - Charred red pepper sauce with omelette noodles - the omelette noodles being just that - a thin egg omelette, rolled up and cut into strips to become noodles, then doused in that red pepper sauce. Going to try that sometime soon. These, indeed are the kind of dishes that would make it easy to become a vegetarian. Not that the book is completely vegetarian. She estimates perhaps 60%. On the left the original version from the book, on the right one from a fan - Food Gal who has reproduced the recipe with pictures of how to do it as you go along. Damn, forgot to take some of them. But then again I didn't know it was going to turn out so well.

Buy the book. And look she's so young. So I'm guessing there will be much more to come.


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