I love my local shop but do think they should change their strapline to ‘Let Us Surprise You!’ The surprise being that they have run out of semi-skimmed milk but do have preserved lemons or have no fish whatsoever but shelves full of venison sausages. And so it was that earlier in the week I went in to buy some spring onions and left with a packet of samphire. (And no, I don’t live in some very chi-chi area of London where we all breakfast on crayfish and acai berries, just in case that’s what you’re thinking; I just have a weird, if rather lovely, local shop.)
I wasn’t sure if I’d ever eaten samphire before but I’d certainly never cooked with it. I had a nibble and it was fresh and salty-tasting, with a texture a bit like young asparagus. It was certainly a shoe-in for fish dishes but this isn’t a fish blog and I still haven’t got my head around possible cheese-fish combos (hurl). So, inspired by a recent recipe from edibletcetera across the water, I decided to go for a tart and to pair the samphire with equally seasonal tomatoes and a lovely summery goat’s cheese.
I wrote about Pablo Cabrito a few weeks ago and was a big fan of its fresh, lemony taste. So when I discovered there was a version rolled in fennel, available only at Paxton and Whitfield, it seemed only right to make the Other Half traipse halfway across heatwave London in his lunch hour to get me some. Here it is, yum:
1 x 320g pack of ready-rolled puff pastry (unless you have substantially more hours in the day than me and want to make your own)
1 small red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 large beefsteak tomatoes
10-12 cherry tomatoes
Soft goat’s cheese (as much or as little as you like)
10-12 stalks of samphire
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220˚C / 200˚C fan assisted / Gas Mark 7.
Remove the pastry from the packet and unroll it onto a baking tray. Score a line about 2cm from the edges, all around the pastry. This will make the edges puff up nicely.
Gently fry the onion and garlic in some olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper. Make sure that they don’t burn; you just want them to soften. Slice the beefsteak tomatoes horizontally so that the seeds don’t all fall out and cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add them all in batches to the frying pan; fry them for a minute or two, turning once, so that they soften and get covered in the oil, garlic and onion. Remove from the pan and arrange the tomato mixture on the pastry. Season with salt and pepper and glug some olive oil over the top.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then take it out and add gobbets of goat’s cheese and arrange the stalks of samphire. Bake for a further 5 minutes.
Serve with a green salad. This is a lovely tart. Get the best tomatoes you can; the beefsteak ones had a wonderful rich flavour whilst the yellow cherries tasted almost like peaches, they were so sweet. If you can’t get hold of Fennel Pablo Cabrito then I would suggest adding a teaspoon of fennel seeds when you fry the onions and garlic.
I went to the shop this morning and noticed they had Sea Aster (I am not kidding). I haven’t the foggiest what it is or what you do with it but, hey, watch this space…
I am adding this recipe to July’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Challenge, hosted by yours truly here.
Because I cook with samphire and tomatoes, I am also adding this to Ren Behan’s Simple and In Season Blog Event.