The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

An (almost) mid-summer night dinner

The weather gifted us with a glorious weekend last week. It was real Summer. I spent three days bare foot, eating ice cream, and dozing on the deck chair in the garden. But as I am sure a number of people complaint because of the heat, it decided to take everything back and make us plunge once more in the midst of Autumn...this evening I've worn my coat again. Cold and rain characterize again our days so much so that our glimpse of Summer was a dream - a mid-summer night dream....

Fingers crossed for more Summer to come.

In my carpe diem attitude I decided to organize my secret supper in the garden, enjoying our meal under the cherry tree lit by candles and lanterns. The effect was magical. And the strong smell from the honeysuckle contributed to move us all to Tuscany - which gave the theme to the dinner. It is true that I am a bit of a garden-freak - as long as it doesn't pour down with rain and the temperature doesn't drop below 15C I'm out there eating my meal. But this time it was warm enough for everyone. I didn't have to chain anyone to their chairs!

Often people find catering for vegetarians very challenging. I think most of them time people have very little imagination as there is so much that you can make with vegetables! If you have the patience to follow me for the next 4 "episodes" you will discover a reasonably simple vegetarian menu that serves 10 people and that can be prepared in advance so that you can enjoy the time to chat and relax with your guests.

Crostata di pomodori e cipolle 
- Savoury tart with tomatoes and onions - 

210g flour (you can also use barley flour to make it different)
100g butter
50g grated Parmesan
2 eggs
1 handful of fresh oregano
500g ripen tomatoes (cherry, vine or pachini)
2 red onions
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g butter
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Combine the flour, butter, cheese and oregano in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the eggs and mix quickly. Remove the mixture from the processor and work it for no more than a minute until all the ingredients are well assembled. Wrap in cling film and let it set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the onions in strips and cook gently in a pan with the butter. When it starts softening up, add the sugar and vinegar and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes until it caramelizes. Take off the fire and let it set.

Take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it to a cm thickness, and cook it in the oven (covered with silver foil and beans) at 180C for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and cook it for another 2 minutes.


Cut the tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and olive oil. Create a layer of them on the top of the pastry case. Grate some Parmesan and then cover with the onions. Make another layer with the tomatoes (skin down) and sprinkle another generous handful of grated Parmesan. If you have any pastry left you can either create a lattice or thin grissini to simply lay on the surface and that can be lifted up and eaten on their own. For a more "elegant look" you can make individual tarts and served with some fresh rocket salad. Cook the tart in the oven at C200 for 20-30 minutes until the pastry starts getting its colour.

This is a wonderful tart which suits almost any occasion - picnics, buffets, informal dinners, or parties - even better if spent outdoors!


  1. That tart sounds delicious! I like the idea of adding Parmesan to the pastry. I'll give it a go, you're right, it seems perfect for picnics.

    1. Thank you! Hope you'll like it. I find it very Summery!

  2. Sounds great & looks wonderful! You really summon up the mood of a mid-summer garden dinner; thank you! But are the pictures really of your garden? I mean, do you live in Narnia?!?
    Looking forward to the next course!

  3. I should come to be transposed to a fairy tale! :D