Tomato & Mozzarella Tartlets, with Green Pesto Salad

These little tartlets are brilliant for a summery supper when you want to impress a bit. They look rather pretty, and there’s hardly any effort involved: just buttery, flaky pastry, oozy mozzarella and sweet fresh tomatoes.

250g puff pastry (it usually comes in packs of two 500g slabs, so pop the rest in the freezer)
A ball of mozzarella
2 fat beef tomatoes
2 tablespoons of pesto
Salt and black pepper
A tablespoon of butter
For the salad:
About 220g pasta
A couple of tablespoons of pesto
A good handful of fresh rocket
A handful of pine nuts

Serves 4.

First of all, do note that puff pastry usually takes a long time to defrost, so it’s best to get it out first thing in the morning. However, if you do forget, I have managed to defrost it in the microwave – just keep a close eye on it, and don’t dry it out!

Preheat the oven to 200˚C fan (or 220˚C non-fan). Cut the puff pastry slab into four even quarters, and stick two of them in the fridge for tomorrow (unfortunately you can’t refreeze it and you usually have to buy it frozen – but you can easily use the leftover bits to make a quick pudding over the next couple of days. Just roll out and top with jam, chocolate spread, or fruit with a drizzle of honey, and bake for the same amount of time). Dust the remaining two quarters with plenty of flour and then roll out into squares about 5mm thick, and cut these into two rectangles each, leaving you with four tart bases.
Spread half a tablespoon of pesto onto each base, leaving a 1cm-wide border around the edge. Top with a couple of thin slices of mozzarella and finish off with a couple of slices of tomato. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pop the tablespoon of butter in a microwave dish and blitz it for just a couple of seconds so that it melts, then brush the edges of the tarts with the melted butter – this will help them go brown and crispy in the oven. Pop the tarts in and set a timer for 20 minutes.

Next, the pesto salad. I like to let pesto pasta cool down a bit (somehow it’s not quite right when it’s boiling hot) so I would put it on as soon as the tarts go in, but it’s up to you! When it’s cooked to your satisfaction, mix in a couple of tablespoons of pesto, plus the rocket and the pine nuts.

When the timer dings, the mozzarella should be bubbling and golden, and the edges of the tarts should be looking crispy. Serve up with a generous spoonful of salad and wash it down with a lovely glass of red wine. Bon appetit!