Home-grown tomatoes with freshly made pesto make for one of my favourite flavour combinations and I have been making simple tarts using these two ingredients for many years.
I love eating miniature versions of dishes: the idea of grazing casually on finger-food never fails to excite me, so these canapé-sided tartlets fit the bill. They can, of course, be made as large as you want and I often make these into full-on tarts!
For assembling, a small amount of pesto is spread over the uncooked pastry base, a halved plum tomato is placed on top, followed by seasoning and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. These are then baked at 200C for about 10 minutes.
Once baked and cooled, a few drops of balsamic reduction, a baby basil leaf and small Parmesan crisp finish these canapés off.
For this batch, I used some baby plum tomatoes that I took straight from the freezer: I always freeze halved small plum and cherry tomatoes in the autumn which are great for use in recipes such as this and they still have a lovely fresh taste about them. But I often make this with halved, lightly oven-roasted tomatoes, although these work perfectly of course with fresh tomatoes.
I made up a quick rough-puff pastry for this, giving about 200g pastry, but you can use puff pastry or shortcrust pastry. I use a small circular cutter and, when cut out, I lightly press a slightly smaller cutter on the surface of each to form a ring (as in the picture below): the outer ring of the bases rises up just a little as they bake: not as much as for vol-au-vents, but enough to give a slight ridge.
For the pesto, I pound fresh basil, seasoning, grated parmesan, toasted pine nuts and extra-virgin olive oil with a pestle and mortar until it comes to a fairly coarse paste.
For the Parmesan crisps, I put small mounds of grated Parmesan on a baking parchment and bake for 5-6 minutes or so until just bubbling. I leave them to cool on the parchment.