This is a variation on the famous upside-down apple tart. It is essential to use really ripe tomatoes here – I prefer large cherry tomatoes. The tart can be made with either home-made or commercial puff pastry.
12 large ripe cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
2 tablespoons basil leaves, freshly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 quantity Puff Pastry (recipe in the Cook’s Companion App or book)
1 tablespoon duck fat, or pork fat or extra-virgin olive oil
20 shallots, peeled, or 20 very small onions, peeled
few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
⅔ cup wine
⅓ cup port
extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly oil a baking tray.
To prepare the slow-cooked shallots, heat fat in a pan that will just hold the shallots in a single layer and has a well-fitting lid. Add shallots, then turn to coat with fat and add herbs. Sauté for 5 minutes, shaking pan. Add wine, then reduce heat and cover. Cook very gently for about 35 minutes until shallots are tender. Raise heat and shake pan until shallots are very shiny and coated with syrupy glaze.
Brush tomatoes with oil and place on baking tray, cut-side uppermost. Scatter with basil and grind on pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool. Increase oven temperature to 220°C. Wash baking tray and line it with baking paper.
To make the caramel, heat sugar and water until sugar has dissolved, then boil steadily until deep gold. Stand back and add vinegar – be careful, as it will spit. Stir until smooth, then carefully pour into 4 x 10 cm foil pie tins and twirl to coat base and sides. Arrange 6 tomato halves cut-side up in each tin. Tuck whole or halved shallots into crevices and dribble over juices clinging to shallots. Transfer pie tins to baking tray.
Roll pastry to a thickness of 5 mm and cut 4 x 10 cm rounds. Put rounds on baking paper alongside pie tins. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven. Carefully put pastry rounds on top of tarts and gently press down. Leave for 3 minutes. Quickly invert each tart onto a serving plate and gently lift away foil tin. Scatter with a few grains of sea salt and surround tarts with salad leaves to serve.