This has the flavours of a cannellini bean bruschetta, but is a little more refined. My recipe for pesto is very mild and works well with the beans, without overpowering.
For the tart cases
250g ready-made shortcrust pastry
For the filling
1 tin cannellini beans (235g drained)
4 ripe round tomatoes
8 quarters of preserved small artichokes from a delicatessen
1 medium banana shallot
1 red chilli
4 black olives
4 x 8cm – 10cm mini tart tins
For the pesto
25g fresh basil
1 tbs pinenuts
1 tbs finely grated parmesan
2 large cloves of garlic
Light olive oil or vegetable oil
Light olive oil or mild and fruity virgin olive oil
Rocket or other leaves
Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
Roast the vegetables. Wash the tomatoes and chilli and cut in half. Cut the shallot (unpeeled) in quarters. Put everything into a bowl and drizzle over a little olive oil, add a sprinkling of oregano and a pinch of salt. Gently toss to coat and then place each item on a rack on a roasting tray cut side up. Put into an oven at 140C, Gas 1. Roast for 1 hour, then turn the oven to its lowest setting and roast for another 1 or 2 hours depending on the heat of your oven. The tomatoes should be withered but still shapely – the shallot should have dried and burn outer skin, but be soft inside, the chilli should be dried and crispy.
Make the pastry cases. Roll out the pastry to 2.5 mm thickness. Cut out circles and line the pastry cases. Push the pastry into the sides using spare balls of pastry. Trim the excess to about 3mm above the edges and mold with fingers to give an even edge. Prod the pasty bases with the tines of a fork. Place in the refrigerator to rest for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C, gas 4
Bake the pastry. Remove the cases from the fridge and bake blind lining the cases with scrunched-up baking parchment and filling with baking beans (or any dried pulse). Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take away the paper and beans. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pasty is just beginning to turn golden and is cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool.
Make the pesto. Peel the garlic cloves and bash gently with the side of a cooks knife to just barely ‘crack’ the cloves – not smash. Put the cloves in a saucepan and cover with light olive oil or vegetable oil. Heat on a very low heat to confit the garlic. Bubbles should gently rise come from the cloves. Keep and eye on the garlic to ensure it does not burn – they should take between 10 and 20 minutes depending on heat. Test with a knife when they are just soft remove from the oil, drain and cool. Reserve the oil for and use for frying another time. Put the pinenuts and garlic in a pestle and mortar. Add a good pinch of salt and grind until smooth. Wash, dry and chop the basil, then add to the garlic paste and continue to pound and grind until smooth. Add a little of the light or virgin olive oil (not the confit oil!) and continue grinding. Add the parmesan and continue grinding adding more oil until a smooth and pliable paste is achieved. Add a grinding of pepper and good squeeze of lemon and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Make the filling. Drain the beans well reserving the liquid. Heat a non-stick pan on a medium high heat. Add the beans and stir to make an even layer in the pan. Let the beans cook without stirring until they form browned specs. Toss and stir until evenly speckled. Put into a bowl. Take the shallots and remove any burnt or dried skin or edges. Chop the remaining soft insides and add to the beans. Mash gently with a fork. Add the reserved bean liquid a little at a time until a smooth and thickened puree is achieved. Mix in a squeeze of lemon and season with salt and pepper and pepper.
Assemble the dish. Divide the bean puree into the pastry cases. Add two roasted tomato halves and two quarters of artichokes to each tartlet. Add a spoonful of pesto and garnish with chives. Chop the roasted (dried) chilli and scatter over the tartlet. Drizzle with good olive oil and serve with side salad and drops of aged balsamic vinegar.