Cooking in summer is more fun than in any other season. The flavors are explosive and intense, the days are longer so dinners are later, and everything is more relaxed.
This weekend at the lake we cooked in our swimsuit coverups and we ate outdoors on the patio while watching the Azzurri cheerfully knock England out of the Euro 2012 soccer quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals against Germany. It was reminiscent of warm Sunday afternoons at Stefano’s parent’s house near the sea, when we’d all sit around the table under the portico of the house with la partita (the soccer match) playing on a little black and white television that sat upon a table at the far end.
Our cooking inspiration came from a recipe in the most recent edition of Italia, a British magazine about Italian culture, cuisine, and property. It’s a a rustic tart, but a lighter, summertime version of the one we wrote about this past spring. Easy-to-use puff pastry makes up the base, which is topped with a colorful mélange of red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives. The flavors are as bright and intense as the colors, and ricotta salata adds to the rustic simplicity of this tart.
for two tarts
2 sheets of puff pastry
250 grams (approx. 1 pint) of red, orange and yellow cherry tomatoes
125 grams (4.5 ounces) pitted black olives*
100 grams (3.5 ounces) sun-dried tomatoes**
50 grams (1.75 ounces) ricotta salata shavings***
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
*Choose a high quality Italian or French black olive, or Greek Kalamate olives.
**You can use dried tomatoes, or sun-dried tomatoes in oil. If use use dried tomatoes, rehydrate them before use according to the directions on the package.
Preheat your oven to 220° C, (425° F), with a baking sheet inside. If frozen, allow your puff pastry to thaw according to the directions on the package.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a bowl. Drain any liquid off of the olives, and add them to the bowl, Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into halves or thirds, and add them to the mixture as well. Pour the olive oil over the tomatoes and olives, and salt and pepper generously to taste. Stir together.
When the oven is preheated, remove the baking sheet and carefully place the puff pastry on top of it. Use a fork to prick holes over the surface. With a slotted spoon, arrange half of the tomatoes and olives over the tart’s surface, spreading them out into a single layer and avoiding the juices that have developed so that the tart does not become soggy.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool, while you repeat the process for your second tart. This torta salata can be enjoyed warm or cold.