Not From Concentrate

Surprise Tatin



Hannah and I both grew up in cultures that place a lot of emphasis on meat in our main dishes. Sri Lankans do balance it out with plenty of vegetables on a daily basis but there’s rarely ever a meal without some sort of meat, chicken or at the very least, seafood curry. And in the land of burgers, roast turkeys and ham, aka America, there’s always plenty of meat flying around as well.


We’ve made a recent effort to eat less meat, primarily for health and financial reasons. When we do eat meat, it’s the locally sourced, well bred, organically fed and raised kind so we don’t feel like we’re contributing to all the horrendous things you hear. In any case, it is a tad bit difficult to make the transition. It’s not that we don’t know how to cook our vegetables, rather it’s the fact that after eating meat for so long, a vegetarian meal leaves us feeling hungry and unsatisfied.


I felt like we needed to get more inspiration on how to make vegetables the center piece of the meal and searched for a cookbook that would help us do that. I had stumbled upon Yotam Ottolenghi’s posts on the Guardian before, using it to make Shakshuka, and I wanted something with recipes like that. I had no idea that he had a wonderful cookbook out. Something I feel I should have just googled and found out but I ended up stumbling on to it at a clothing store in the mall. Plenty by Ottolenghi is an amazing book. The plethora of vegetarian recipes in there are not only great for you and prepared in a variety of cuisines, but they are displayed so beautifully that you can’t help but try them all.


This recipe is surprisingly easy and made with very simple ingredients, but delightfully complex with a range of flavors. The word *tatin* is French for a tart that’s baked upside down, with the pastry shell on the top. This recipe, ‘Surprise Tatin’ is a potato upside down tart. I think the word surprise is in the title because you don’t expect it to be potatoes, and when you do see potatoes, you think oh this will be bland, but are pleasantly surprised again.


The recipe calls for puff pastry, which is a British thing, but fear not, Pepperidge Farm is kind enough to make it for us mortals. You can find it in the frozen aisle beside deserts and stuff. Anyway, this is really simple to make and pairs well with a salad and a fruity red wine. Enjoy.

Surprise Tatin by Yotam Ottolenghi


Serves 4


1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

2 tbs olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

salt and black pepper

1lb pound potatoes (skins on)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp sugar

2 tsp butter

3 sprigs oregano

5 oz aged goat cheese, sliced

1 puff pastry sheet, rolled thinly


1) Preheat the oven to 275F. Halve the tomatoes and place them skin-side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in an oven to dry for 45 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim off a bit of the top and bottom of each potato, then cut into 1-inch thick slics.

3) Sauté the onion with the oil and some salt for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

4) Once you’ve prepared all the vegetables, bursh a 9-inch cake pan with oil and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to get a semi-dark caramel. Pour the caramel carefully into the cake pan and tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom. Pick the oregano leaves, tear and scatter on the caramel.

5) Lay the potato slices close together, cut-side down, on the bottom of the pan. Gently press onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the slices of goat cheese evenly over the potates. Cut a puff pastry disc that is 1 inch larger in diameter than the pan. Lay the pastry lid over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes inside the pan. (At this stage you chill the tart for up to 24 hours).

6) Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the tart for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350F and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the oven and let settle for 2 minutes only. Hold an inverted plate firmly on top of the pan and carefully but briskly turn them over together, then lift off the pan. Serve the tart hot or warm.

  • Ashley

    We’ve been trying to start eating less meat too. This came out beautiful! It sounds delicious … I do love just about anything with goat cheese : )

    • Hannah Premaratne

      Thanks! It’s amazing what fun things can be made when you try to eat a little less meat! I totally recommend Plenty, which is where this came from. I can’t turn through the pages without being really inspired to try a bunch of dishes! Goat cheese was such a surprising ingredient in this and it really takes the flavor to a whole new level!

  • tarryn

    Its in the oven now smells devine. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hannah Premaratne

      Don’t you just love the way that the herbs smell as they’re cooking? I hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by :)