Friday, January 23, 2009
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
Frozen puff pastry sheets are just about the best culinary invention of all time. You can whip up impressive appetizers or desserts in a marginal amount of time, compared to what you'd have to go through if you made the pastry yourself (a feat I have yet to attempt, and probably never will since frozen puff pastry is out there, calling my name!) The inspiration for this recipe came from Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Back to Basics. And it really is that - basic. Yet incredibly delicious.
The recipe is listed as a "lunch" option - and I chose to make it alongside a green salad to make it dinner. However, in future I think I would make smaller versions of this and call them appetizers. They are a bit too daunting in their full size, and rather rich. I think making them small, say biscuit-cutter size, would be perfect. But you can decide - they make a pretty satisfying meal full-sized.
I know not everyone likes goat cheese and caramelized onions (my husband is such a person, so I made his with sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoni) so feel free to substitute whatever toppings strike your fancy. I do have to say the caramelized onions are incredible, and tangy goat cheese is the perfect complement. But hey, if you want to be different, be different.
I should also note that an earthquake hit while I was preparing these, and the epicenter was one mile from where we live. I don't really have a point in mentioning that, but just thought I would let you know that I managed to produce a successful dinner even while the house shook around me. Nuff said.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, "Back to Basics"
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (1/2 package)
1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
2 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
1 medium tomato, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade
1 ounce fresh parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1. The pastry: unfold on a lightly floured surface and roll out until it is very thin, but thick enough to pick up without tearing. You should end up with a square sheet about 10" x 10". Cut into four squares to make four tarts, two per person (or use a biscuit cutter to make small rounds).
2. The onions: Heat about 1 tablespoon EVOO in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sautee for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are limp and very little moisture remains. Add a pinch of salt, pepper to taste, wine, and thyme and cook an additional 10 minutes, until wine is absorbed/evaporated and onions are slightly browned. Remove from heat.
3. The assembly: Score a 1/4-inch wide border around each piece of pastry, and prick with a fork inside the border you just created. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon grated parmesan on each square. Place a quarter of the onion mixture on each square within the scored edge. Crumble the goat cheese over each pile of the onion. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush lightly with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray). Sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper, and top with the shaved parmesan.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and puffy. Serve warm.
It feels a little bit decadent, more like party food than regular dinner (that's where the salad comes to the rescue and makes you feel less guilty). But it's fun, it's different, and by all means don't open a bottle of wine just for the tablespoon and a half that's in the recipe - the wine will go nicely alongside dinner.