Mr. Veggie’s first question when I served him this tart was “What’s the brown stuff?”.
So, let’s just get that out of the way.
No, the sundried tomato & mint pesto which I lovingly made from scratch is not attractive, per se. Brown walnuts, red sundried tomatoes and green mint don’t exactly complement each other aesthetically.
In fact, it rather looks like sausage meat doesn’t it?
(If you’re a meat eater, you’re blatantly going to go off and make this with sausage now aren’t you?)
Now, his second question just made me laugh.
“What’s the cheese?”.
I mean, come ON.
This is not one of those situations where I paint him out to be the dim-but-lovable husband who is clueless about all things domestic. No WAY. I don’t even know where we keep half our cleaning products and I am pretty sure he is the first person to ever serve me a real caprese salad – so that is not our dynamic.
Of course I mocked him for his inability to recognize mozzarella, but then I went away and thought about it and I reflected on the fact that I used a block cooking mozzarella instead of a fresh one. Which does influence the texture. We may have just caught him off guard?
I mention the mozzarella because this is super important. You can not make this with a fresh mozzarella which is stored in water because that would have way too much moisture and make a huge mess. You need a block of cooking mozzarella, which is much more solid. It will be soft and shreddy, almost rubbery. You can get some terrible cooking mozzarellas which are basically string cheese so try to avoid those. I personally have tried this with both Galbani and Sainsbury’s own brand with great results.
Anyway, one thing we both did agree on was that this tart was an outstanding Sunday lunch. While simple to prepare, it uses some beautiful ingredients which come together beautifully.
The tomatoes were fresh and juicy, the mozzarella chewy and firm, the pesto intensely flavorful and the pastry light and flaky. Every bite is a little bit different.
The end pieces and middle pieces were quite different from each other too, with the middle pieces (my favourite) being much more dense and moist, and the outer pieces (his favourite) having more contrast from the crispy, flaky pastry.
We served this with a big leafy side salad, with my simple pesto salad dressing – using some of the sundried tomato mint pesto in this recipe. So it was very well matched.
If you make the full batch of pesto in this recipe, you’ll have leftovers. I had enough leftover to make the salad dressing + use it with some gnocci for dinner the next night. If you don’t want leftovers, you can halve the recipe.
- Pesto recipe is adapted from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano – a fabulous cookbook.