Rick Stein's Confit Tomato and Aubergine Tarte Tatin

For a show-stopping vegetarian main, try Rick Stein's recipe for a traditional French confit tomato and aubergine tarte tatin, as seen on BBC2's Rick Stein's Secret France.

Rick Stein’s Secret France
A culinary journey across France with Rick Stein
All of your favourite recipes from the BBC series
Secret French recipes alongside authentic classics

Introduction

I find that I’m increasing the number of vegetarian dishes in my books more and more. This is mainly because people keep asking me for them, but also I think most of us eat too much meat, and dishes like this are simply superb in their own right. I have specified an all-butter puff pastry here, but if you want to make this a lovely vegan dish, use a margarine-based pastry. There’s a recipe for green pistou, a French version of pesto, on page 302 of my book, and a teaspoonful with a slice of this tart is fabulous.

Serves 2-3 as a main course with salad

Ingredients

For the confit aubergines:
600g (about 2) aubergines, sliced into rounds
1 tbsp fine salt
300ml olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
a few fresh thyme sprigs
1–2 small dried chillies or a large pinch of chilli flakes
For the confit tomatoes:
1kg tomatoes, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, bashed but left whole
a few fresh thyme sprigs
200ml olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper
To assemble the tarte tatin:
1 garlic clove, cut in half
½ quantity confit tomatoes, well drained of oil
½ quantity confit aubergines, well drained of oil
½ tsp herbes de Provence
250g all-butter puff pastry
leaves from a few thyme sprigs
1–2 tbsp green pistou (page 302 of Rick Stein's Secret France – optional)
salt and black pepper

Essential kit

You will need: a 20cm fixed-base cake tin or an ovenproof frying pan.

Instructions

For the confit aubergines:

Put the aubergine slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt, then turn them over and sprinkle the other side. Set the colander over a bowl and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse the slices and dry them with kitchen paper. Discard any juices. Preheat the oven to 110°C/Fan 90°C.

Pour the oil into a small roasting tin and add the garlic, thyme, and chillies. Warm the oil on the hob, then submerge the aubergines slices in the oil. Put the tin in the oven and cook for about 2 hours.

Pack the aubergine slices into sterilised jars and top up with the flavoured oil. Screw on the lids and leave to cool, then store in the fridge. Allow to come up to room temperature before using to liquefy the oil.

For the confit tomatoes:

Preheat the oven to 110°C/Fan 90°C. Arrange the tomatoes, cut-side up, in a roasting tin just big enough to hold them in one layer and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs among the tomatoes, then pour over the oil and balsamic vinegar.

Put the tomatoes in the oven and cook them for 2–2½ hours. Pack into sterilised jars with the juices and oil and allow to cool, then store in the fridge. Allow to come up to room temperature before using to liquefy the oil.

To assemble the tarte tatin:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. You need a 20cm fixed-base cake tin or an ovenproof frying pan. Rub the inside of the tin or pan with the cut garlic clove, then arrange the tomatoes, cut-side down, over the base. Next arrange a layer of about 8 slices of aubergine over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry into a disc a little larger than the tin or pan to allow for shrinkage and place it over the aubergines. Bake the tart for 25–30 minutes, until the pastry has risen and is golden and crisp.

Remove the tart and allow it to cool a little. Carefully cover the tin or pan with a plate and invert to turn the tart out. You may need to rearrange a few of the vegetables with a palette knife if dislodged and blot up any oil spills on the plate.

Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve warm or at room temperature with a little pistou on the side, if using, and a green salad.

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