The perfect light meal!

Tomato tarts are beautiful and really so delicious and refreshing.

I make this tart in so many versions, I mix and match cheeses, tomatoes and aromatics as per the season and what is available, and at times as per my mood that day or to pair with a specific flavour, wine or side…etc. This is one of my favourite ways to make this tart, with my delicious Nabulsi cheese جبنة نابلسية (A specialty cheese of the city of Nablus/Palestine) and it tastes Divine! The pairing of sweet tomatoes and the nabulsi cheese is a classic in Palestinian cuisine, and it was only natural that I was going to pair them here. The addition of my gorgeous Pickled Zaatar adds a layer of depth and earthiness that pairs very well with the combination. It just brings out the cheese flavour and compliments the whole experience. Mint works very well here as well. If you wish to use the mint, then remove the zaatar and focus on the mint instead. Also sometimes I will make this tart without any cheese at all, and just celebrate the flavour of the tomatoes, in which case I finish all with a drizzling of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Absolutely Divine!

If you are making this for your children’s lunch box, then make mini tarts. You can use this cheese or any other cheese that you know your kids like. You can go for the zaatar, mint or oregano… really the sky is the limit! I would also remove the pecans from the ones I make for the lunchbox because as it is not safe to send anything containing nuts to school. Just in case any of the children are allergic.

Sahtein
(Bon Appetit in Arabic :))

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6
  • 1 recipe Savoury Shortcrust Shell (on this link)
  • 1/4 cup DS Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp DS Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp DS Organic Pickled Zaatar
  • DS Nabulsi Cheese, boiled and ready to eat, cut into small cubes or crumbled
  • Cherry tomatoes or assorted tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp pecans, toasted then roughly chopped
  • 4 sprigs thyme for garnish

You can use whole or halved cherry tomatoes, sliced assorted tomatoes and may even alternate red, green and yellow tomatoes. Be creative and remember that visual appeal is always essential and makes your more deliciously tempting.

The traditional Nabulsi cheese, is a delicious cheese that is very unique in flavour due to the fact that it is made out of a mixture of goat’s and ewe’s milk. The cheese is cured in salt then preserved in Salt water (Find the recipe for how to make it at home in my book Plated Heirlooms). This curing and brining allows this cheese to taste for almost 2 years without spoiling. This is the traditional and old Palestinian method for preserving cheese. This however means that the cheese as it when removed from the brine is inedible. It will be very hard and extremely salty, which is why the cheese (in the quantity you are using) has to be removed from the brine, then placed a pot with enough fresh water to cover it completely. It is then boiled, which allows it to release the salt. This is the sweetening process of Nabulsi cheese. The best thing about this cheese is that it allows you to control the saltiness, so the more you boil the cheese the sweeter it becomes. This means that you can start with a pretty salty cheese (boiled slightly) or go for a very sweet cheese (boiled for 20-30 minutes) which is traditionally used in the making of the traditional Palestinian dessert Knafe.

For this recipe, I boil the cheese for 15-20 minutes before using.

Make the shell as per the recipe in the link above, but do not over brown the shell as you bake to allow for finishing the pie in the oven. Once the pastry is dry, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup olive oil with the pickled zaatar, crushed garlic clove, salt and black pepper.

Generously brush the slightly cooled pastry with the olive oil mixture. Top with crumbled or cubed boiled cheese, and brush with the olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the roughly chopped toasted pecans and the thyme leaves. Line the tomatoes to cover the whole top of the tart and brush with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper then bake in 350°F/180°C oven for 12 minutes or until slightly golden and tomatoes start to crack.

Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly. Serve warm or cold with a side of assorted lettuce dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

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