In my experience some of the most memorable lunches and parties, are those that happen spontaneously.
But of course, spontaneous and last-minute is no good if you have nothing in the fridge! I find I have my favourite turn-to ingredients, that I know I can rely on and that will adapt to many different recipes. A pack of puff or flaky pastry is just such a thing.
With a pack of puff pastry, I can improvise a wafer thin french apple tart for dessert; mini cheese straws for an appetizer with a glass of wine or this savoury tart for a first course or for a lunch with girlfriends.
To make this very simple but totally delicious tart, I pre-heat the oven to 180°C, then roll out my pastry fairly thinly and pop it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. I like to pre-bake the pastry for a few minutes to ensure a crisp base.
While the pastry is in the oven, I whiz in my mixer, a few fresh basil leaves, a few leaves of roquette salad, some grated parmesan cheese, a little fresh garlic and some pine nuts, along with some olive oil. I aim to obtain an almost liquid paste.
Once the pastry round is just turning golden, I take it out of the oven, and at this point I turn up the oven to 210 C. Next, I smear the pastry all over with my pesto mix, then add a thin layer of tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little more parmesan; I pour a tiny bit of olive oil over the tomatoes, then pop back into the oven for 20 minutes.
You can serve with a side salad, but I think it looks prettiest with some roquette leaves strewn over the tart.
A girls' lunch. Quick, easy to put together and totally yummy!