Alex's Famous Slow Cooked Tomato & Grana Padano Tart with Aioli

1 hour 30 minutes
to cook

Alex Mackay, cook, teacher, writer, and food lover serves up a collection of his recipes made for sharing showing the versatility of Grana Padano PDO cheese. With light bites to quick pasta: brunch to supper standbys you can find recipes for every occasion this Easter.

Versions of this tart are made everywhere by old friends from New York to New Zealand since I started making it at my old Cookery School, Le Baou d'Infer. I first came across a version of it one evening in a packed little restaurant in St Tropez. They made it with goats' cheese topped with dried tomatoes, but I've given it an Italian influence by using Grana Padano and fresh tomatoes so their juices flow into the cheese and then get sucked back up by the pastry. Don't worry if after 15-30 minutes the tart looks an absolute mess, it'll all dry out and be delicious. The tomatoes will concentrate to an intensely flavoured, almost dry, crimson. You can eat the tart hot or cold and it's worth making for the aroma alone. Serve with a crisp green salad or a salad of raw tomatoes. I love a little mixture of heirloom tomatoes to contrast the cooked ones on the tart.

Serves 4 Preparation time: 40 minutes; Cooking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes; Difficulty: Easy

  • method
  • Ingredients


1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºc / Gas 6 / Rack Position Upper Middle Shelf.
2. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. Unroll the puff pastry while it is room temperature, onto a non-stick mat. If the pastry is too cold, it will crack as you unroll it. Put the pastry on a tray and let it rest in the fridge while you prepare the tomatoes.
3. Cut the tops and tails off the tomatoes that the 'barrels' that remain are all the same size. Slice the tomatoes 5mm thick.
4. Cut the tops and tails into 5mm dice. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Mix the mascarpone with Grana Padano cheese and sliced basil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Put the pastry onto a baking tray with slightly raised sides, too raised and it won't cook, not raised enough and the juice will all burn in your oven. Spread the Grana Padano mixture in a 1cm thick layer across the centre of the pastry. Leave a 6cm border around the edges.
7. Scatter the diced tomato across the cheese in a flat layer. Layer the sliced tomatoes in lines across the top of the cheese mixture, overlapping the tomatoes and each line each time. The Grana Padano mixture should be completely covered, and you want to leave a border of 2-3cm around the outside.
8. Trickle 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over the top.
9. Bake the tart in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, check every 15 minutes and turn the tart halfway through. (The time will vary depending on how much liquid there is in the tomatoes, if at this stage, it looks a mess, don't worry, all the juice will dry out and be delicious, just make sure the pastry looks cooked around the outside.) Turn the oven down to 150ºc / Gas 2 and bake for a further 30-45 minutes. When the tart is cooked there should be almost no liquid left in the tomatoes, and the pastry base will be golden and beginning to burn around the edges.
10. Use the mat to help you slide the tart onto a rack. Brush the warmed tart with extra virgin olive oil.
11. Mix the mayonnaise with the garlic and Grana Padano, season to taste and serve on the side.


1, 320g packet of pre-rolled puff pastry (preferably made with butter but the cheaper and gluten free versions work well too)
1.2kg large, preferably plum tomatoes all as close as possible to the same size (buy a few extras just in case)
125g mascarpone cheese
100g Grana Padano PDO, grated
6 tbsp sliced basil
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to trickle and brush over the top of the cooked tart
The Grana Padano Aioli
8 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise
3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
30g very finely grated Grana Padano PDO
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Non-stick mat
Baking tray

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