As our family holiday draws to a close and we reflect on all the wonderful times we’ve spent together and the new memories we’ve made, what better way to relax than to pack a picnic and enjoy more time together in one of Auckland’s beautiful regional parks.
Whether Winter, Summer, Spring or Autumn, we often picnic. It’s a wonderful way to casually explore new corners of our world or revisit old favourites. Sometimes it’s just a couple of sandwiches, a few juice bottles and a treat or two in a backpack, while at other times, depending on the amount of time I have to prepare and it isn’t one of our famous last minute decisions, we get the wicker picnic basket out and the meal is a little more “gourmet”.
There are no rules to creating a fabulous picnic, but being organised and packing food that is easy to eat with your fingers and tastes good cold is a great place to start. My picnic basket is always packed and includes the basics: cutlery, plates, cups and a picnic blanket, preferably one with a waterproof base (I know this from experience unless you don’t mind a bit of damp grass occasionally).
Wet wipes, a plastic bag for rubbish, serviettes, a couple of serving spoons, a good knife and a small chopping board also come in handy. It’s also a great idea to wrap the knife in a clean dish towel so you don’t get caught handling the sharp edge if items have moved during transportation.
This tomato tart looks and sounds a little fancy, and it certainly tastes delicious, but I’m always amazed at how easy it is to put together. All done in 45 minutes, but that’s using ready-made puff pastry. You’re welcome to make your own, but that’s a whole separate discussion. I don’t mind the thought of cold pastry, depending on the filling, but this recipe lends itself to being enjoyed either hot, straight out of the oven, or cold…and at a picnic :).
It also works well as a light meal served with a fresh side salad.
400g block frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup mascarpone
Approximately 5 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1cm slices but use as many as you need to cover the tart
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup torn basil leaves
a little basil, parmesan and cashew nut pesto also adds a bit of zing (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil, rocket or microgreens to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 210C. Roll the pastry out to a rectangle approximately 33 cm x 23 cm. Place the pastry on a greased baking sheet and score a border around the inside edge approximately 1.5 cm from the edge (but don’t cut right through!). Prick the base all over with a fork. (This releases any air trapped under the pastry and prevents air making bubbles.)
- Lightly beat the egg and brush the pastry border with the beaten egg, then whisk the remaining egg into the mascarpone with a fork until it is completely combined.
- Spread the mascarpone mixture over the pastry base, taking care to stay inside the border.
- Arrange the tomato slices over the top of the mascarpone. Drizzle or brush the slices with the balsamic vinegar then sprinkle over the parmesan and basil leaves. Season to taste with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper – I like lots on the tomatoes!
- Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until it has risen and is dark golden. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold, garnished with the extra basil leaves, rocket or microgreens.