Oh, summertime! It’s all tomatoes with good olive oil and bike rides and afternoon beers over here, and I hope you’ve got the same. I struggle, always, with the whole fear-of-missing-out thing, afraid I’ll not take full advantage of one thing or another. The condition is particularly heightened during these months. Have I eaten enough peaches? Am I spending my weekends appropriately? Has enough rosé graced my table? What will I miss when winter’s arrived? Etc. But I am doing my best, and I’m certainly enjoying myself. That’s probably sufficient.
There are, of course, a few things I am, indeed, missing out on. Which is okay! These I’m admiring from a distance. For example, someone in our neighborhood is really honing their grilling skills this summer. It smells amazing every night, at the hour just before we start on dinner. I’m a bit nostalgic for the hot summer nights of the Midwest, too, and for those thunderstorms we never get here. (I know, I know—everything is in season earlier in California, and no polar vortexes here. But Michigan, I swear that your blueberries are better.)
What with all of the summer goodness to soak up, we eat simply most evenings. Plus, what’s better than this season’s gorgeous produce all on its own? Sautéed corn with herbs, tomato and nectarine salads, sliced avocado with cucumber and a pile of sprouts: this is enough to keep me very happy. But I still pull out the showstoppers from time to time, when I’m feeling particularly inspired and/or having company for dinner. And this dish right here fits that bill, with a few of those summertime stars and just enough decadence to feel celebratory.
The recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which I’ve been enjoying anew this summer. There’s a striking photo of this dish, which Ottolenghi calls “Surprise Tatin,” in the cookbook, only a short way in. The bold circles of potato and blackened leaves of oregano always caught my eye, puff pastry peaking out from underneath and parchment paper stained golden like caramel. All this time I’ve been eyeing it, especially once I had a potato-and-tomato loving man in my life who I knew would appreciate it thoroughly. Yet only this summer did I get around to making it. And holy cow, is this thing delicious. I made it once for us a couple of weeks ago, with the first of the new potatoes and sungold tomatoes, and then again for Ben’s parents when they visited last week. It’s a stunner, perfect with a summery green salad (corn and avocado are a nice addition there, or peaches and toasted almonds) and a glass of crisp white wine. Summertime perfection!
New Potato & Tomato Tatin
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
For the cheese, I recommend something flavorful like a gouda. It’s nice to have that added dimension in the mix of a few milder flavors. For the puff pastry, I recommend an all butter variety. Dufour is my favorite.
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 heaped cups cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound small new potatoes, preferably fingerlings
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 5 fresh oregano sprigs
5 ounces firm, aged cheese, sliced
1 puff pastry sheet, defrosted
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Halve the tomatoes and place them cut-side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven to dry for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. Once cool, trim a bit off the top and bottom of each potato, then cut into 1-inch-thick discs.
Sauté the onion with the oil and some salt for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Once you’ve prepared all of the vegetables, brush a 9-inch cake pan with oil and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. In a small pan, cook the sugar and butter on high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to get a semi-dark caramel. Right away, pour the caramel carefully into the cake pan. Tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the parchment. Pick the oregano leaves, tearing any large ones in half, and scatter atop the caramel.
Lay the potato slices close together, cut-side down, on the bottom of the pan. Gently press onion and tomato into the gaps and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the slices of cheese evenly over the potatoes.
Roll out the puff pastry slightly. Then, cut a disc that is 1 inch larger in diameter than the pan. Lay the pastry lid over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes inside the pan. (At this point, you can chill the tart for up to 24 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the tart for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is sufficiently cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest for just 2 minutes. Then, hold an inverted plate (or a cutting board) firmly on top of the pan and carefully but briskly turn them over together, then gently lift off the pan. Serve the tart hot or warm.