10 July 1998

Delicious dish at the heart of West Country cookery book

Fresh plum

tomato and basil tartFor the crust: 175g (7oz) plain flour1 teaspoon salt2 large cloves garlic, crushed70ml (3fl oz) extra virgin oil1-2 tablespoons waterFor the filling:900g (2lb) ripe plum tomatoes2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed2 teaspoons caster sugar6-8 sage leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper12 basil leaves thinly slicedoil for frying

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Put the garlic into a saucepan with the olive oil and place the pan over a medium heat for about 2min. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water. Pour this hot mixture gradually into the flour, stirring it to form a dough. Using your fingers, press pieces of the dough firmly and evenly over the base and sides of a 24cm (10in) loose-bottomed, greased flan tin. Prick the base all over, cover and chill for 30min, (or if in a hurry, freeze for 10 min). Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25min or until the base is crisp (no need for baking beans etc). Drop tomatoes into a large pan of boiling water for 12sec. Drain and skin. Cut into chunky pieces. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat and cook the tomatoes and garlic for about 20min or until the tomatoes are cooked but still holding their shape. Stir carefully so as not to break up the fruit. Remove the tomatoes and boil off all the liquid and then return them to the pan. Add the sugar and butter and stir for a few minutes. Season to taste and allow to cool. Stir in the basil. Fill the crust evenly with the tomato mixture. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until crisp but not burnt. Scatter over the tart. Remove the tart from the tin by standing it on an inverted bowl so that the loose part of the tin drops down and then ease the tart off the metal base using a palette knife, onto a serving plate. Serve warm garnished with fresh basil leaves. Serves 6-8

Fresh plum

tomato and basil tartFor the crust: 175g (7oz) plain flour1 teaspoon salt2 large cloves garlic, crushed70ml (3fl oz) extra virgin oil1-2 tablespoons waterFor the filling:900g (2lb) ripe plum tomatoes2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed2 teaspoons caster sugar6-8 sage leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper12 basil leaves thinly slicedoil for frying

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Put the garlic into a saucepan with the olive oil and place the pan over a medium heat for about 2min. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water. Pour this hot mixture gradually into the flour, stirring it to form a dough. Using your fingers, press pieces of the dough firmly and evenly over the base and sides of a 24cm (10in) loose-bottomed, greased flan tin. Prick the base all over, cover and chill for 30min, (or if in a hurry, freeze for 10 min). Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25min or until the base is crisp (no need for baking beans etc). Drop tomatoes into a large pan of boiling water for 12sec. Drain and skin. Cut into chunky pieces. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil over a moderate heat and cook the tomatoes and garlic for about 20min or until the tomatoes are cooked but still holding their shape. Stir carefully so as not to break up the fruit. Remove the tomatoes and boil off all the liquid and then return them to the pan. Add the sugar and butter and stir for a few minutes. Season to taste and allow to cool. Stir in the basil. Fill the crust evenly with the tomato mixture. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until crisp but not burnt. Scatter over the tart. Remove the tart from the tin by standing it on an inverted bowl so that the loose part of the tin drops down and then ease the tart off the metal base using a palette knife, onto a serving plate. Serve warm garnished with fresh basil leaves. Serves 6-8

WHEN it comes to fresh vegetables, west country cooks are spoilt for choice. Growers in the region produce a surprising range from chillies to cucumbers, aubergines to asparagus, peppers to pink fir potatoes plus all the more usual vegetables we take for granted.

It should come as no surprise then that a fresh plum tomato and basil tart should be one of the dishes that launched West Country Cookings latest recipe book,

Vegetables, by Joyce Molyneux and Caroline Yates. The tart, cooked by Caroline, who teaches at the Prue Leith School of Cookery and Wine, and the super dish of cabbage and lentils, cooked by Joyce, a reknown chef with her own restaurant – The Carved Angel, Dartmouth – are typical of the modern and tasty dishes in the book.

&#42 Fresh as possible

They should convince the most relunctant vegetable eater that veg can be exciting, and delicious when they are bought and used as fresh as possible and cooked with a little imagination.

We give a sample of the recipes here, try them and be convinced.

Farmer Patrick Palmer knows the value of supplying local outlets with vegetables. His son Duncan specialises in cauliflowers, calabrese, cabbage and carrots, growing 12ha (30acres) within a rotation of the arable crops at Bower Hinton Farm, Martock, Somerset. "We are not big enough to supply supermarkets in our own right so we concentrate on local trade," says Mr Palmer, who runs the arable side of the 105ha (260acre) farm with his other son, Andrew. "We take orders in the evening from shops and wholesalers and Duncan goes out next morning at 5.30am and cuts the vegetables.

He welcomes the publication of the book from West Country Cooking. "The education they provide is priceless and they really raise the profile of local foods," he said.

West Country Cooking – a joint venture between the NFU and Taste of the West – has been very proactive in encouraging a whole range of catering businesses from tea rooms to top hotels to use local produce and details of these establishments are in the Guide to Good Food in the West Country, edited by Tom Jaine and published by Halsgrove at £8.95.

It has also produced two other West Country recipe books – Cream and Baking, both by Michael Raffael. Like Vegetables, by Joyce Molyneux and Caroline Yates, the recipe books are published by Halsgrove, at (£4.95). All were published with grant aid given under Objective 5b EAGGF funds.

Tessa Gates

Caroline Yates (left) and Joyce Molyneux prepare to demonstrate a couple of the recipes they included in their West Country cookery book entitled Vegetables. Fresh plum tomato and basil tart (inset) was Carolines choice.