The height of Summer brings lots of magical colours to enhance our eating experience, there is almost too many to choose - deep reds of peppers, cool greens of cucumbers and salad leaves, varied colours of heritage tomatoes to the calming white Florence fennel bulbs.
This savoury version of a tart tartin uses the colours to create an upside-down pastry, ideal for eating cold with a simple green leaf and tomato salad. It is robust enough to take on a picnic or just eat al fresco in your own garden.
Using the large AGA cast aluminium fry pan is excellent for this recipe, as only one pan is used to cook the vegetables then into the AGA Roasting Oven to complete the process, made possible by the fact the handle can be removed to use it safely in the oven. The cast aluminium range has a Withford Quantanium non-stick finish, which incorporates a unique mixture of titanium particles blended into the coating, making it harder and more durable than conventionally reinforced systems. I find it so easy to clean.
Indeed now the clever people from AGA Cookshop have produced a cast aluminium range which can be used on induction hobs, making them even more versatile.
The tart tartin looks best (in my opinion – but certainly not obligatory!!) when the vegetables are arranged in a pleasing pattern. Cook off the red peppers and fennel both sides in the rape seed oil, in the fry pan, until they are lightly browned and tender, sprigs of fresh thyme provide a back note of herby flavour, however you could use rosemary instead. This frying process can be undertaken on the hotplates or if your AGA ovens are ready then complete the process in the Roasting Oven.
Roll the puff pastry into a circle slightly larger than the fry pan and place over the vegetables, tucking in the edge. Position the fry pan in the Roasting Oven, remove the handle and cook. You can quickly put the pastry over the hot peppers and fennel or leave the vegetables to cool then veil them with the pastry, whatever works for you at the time, however cooking time will be a bit quicker with hot ingredients.
Veil the vegetables with puff pastry Cooked pastry, ready for turning out
Once cooked allow the tart tartin to rest for about 5 minutes, place a large plate over the fry pan and upturn.
RED PEPPER AND FENNEL TART TARTIN
1 x AGA 28cm Cast Aluminium Frypan, with removable handle
3 small red peppers
2 bulbs of Florence fennel
2 tbsp rape seed oil
Ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh thyme
375g ready-made puff pastry
Fresh thyme sprigs
Cut the peppers into thirds, (or halves dependent upon their size) removing stalks and seeds, any remaining can be used as ‘fillers’. Slice the fennel down into three slices each, again the ends can be used for filling the centre. Place the rape seed oil into the base of the AGA frypan and arrange the pepper and fennel around the edge of the frypan, with extra pieces in the middle. Season and scatter with fresh thyme.
2, 3, 4 and 5 oven AGA: Place the frypan on the Simmering Plate and gently cook for about 5 minutes until the bases of the peppers and fennel are beginning to brown. Turn the vegetables over and place the frypan on to the oven grid shelf set on the floor of the Roasting Oven, remove the handle and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until browned and tender. Remove any woody thyme sprigs
Roll out the pastry to a 30cm circle and place over the peppers and fennel, tucking in the edges. Replace the pan in the Roasting Oven, on the oven grid shelf placed on the third set of runners down. Bake the tart for about 20 minutes until the pastry is browned, flaky and risen. Remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then put a large upturned plate on the top of the tart tartin and turn out, the pastry will be below with the vegetables on top!
Garnish with fresh thyme and serve with salad. Great eaten warm or cold.
Conventional cooking: Fry the peppers and fennel both sides on the hob, until browned and tender. Cover with the pastry circle then transfer to a pre-heated oven 200ºC, fan oven 180ºC, Gas Mark 6 for about 20 minutes until the pastry is browned, flaky and risen. Proceed as above.