First things first. I know it’s wrong, but I like to spell tartlet, tartlette. It just seems more fitting for a small French pastry.
Smell is such a huge part of taste. If you’re stuffy, nothing seems to taste good. There are some smells that make you happy with just a whiff. This recipe combines those fragrant and delicous ingredients. Basil, fresh tomatoes, garlic, baking puff pastry, and goat cheese. I went out to the tomato patch to check on the progress, and ta-da! I picked about a dozen San Marzanos. These are amazing little guys. They look like a Roma, but are even meatier, and more flavorful. They’re that tomato of choice for wood-fired pizza makers in Italy. They’re one the key ingredients in Pizza Margherita. Don’t you love the smell of tomato plants?
And the basil…what a punch!
Wait! For those of you who just read the word puff pastry and are ready to move on, please stay. You’ll be using a sheet of pastry that you can purchase at the grocery. All you’ll need to do is thaw and unfold it. Here’s your chance to make a beautiful tart that will look like you spent all day. You could if you wanted to, but you don’t have to. Sometime we’ll make puff pastry together. It takes time, but it’s really worth it.
This recipe is part of the French Fridays with Dorie online cooking group. The recipe comes from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan. I’ll walk you through the basic steps, just in case you don’t have a copy.
First you’ll open your thawed box of pastry and unfold it. Find a bowl or cup that’s about 3-4 inches in diamenter and trace four circles. If the puff pastry has tears where is was folded, gently smoosh it together. Not too hard though. Once you have your circles, move the dough to a baking sheet, covered with parchment, and poke with a fork. This keep the puff pastry from puffing too much. A way to make sure the dough puffs evenly is to set another sheet of parchement paper and a baking sheet or cooling rack on top. The dough will still puff and be flaky, just nice and even.
After you’ve removed the puff from the oven, let it cool. It should be nice and golden.
Now on to the pesto. I filled the food processor with basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Gave it a whirl, when I realized that I didnt’ have any parmesan cheese. Another oops! No problem. There’s going to be cheese on top, so I added the drizzle of olive oil and had a great tasting topping for the tarts. Here’s the recipe I made:
2-3 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2-3 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (apparently optional)
1/2 cup olive oil, or to desired consistency
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse the basil, garlic, nuts and cheese until to forms a chunky paste. Drizzle in olive oil until pesto is desired consistency. Season to taste.
It’s so easy! However, we’re in the together and I don’t want you to miss out on this tart. You can buy pesto, and it will be fine. You can find it in the refrigerated department or the condiment aisle.
Now be creative. Put a big dollap of pesto on each tart. Then, slice the tomatoes, and cheese. If you have one big tomato, place a big ’ol slice on the tart. I had smaller sized tomatoes, so I made a pinwheel around the tart. I used both goat cheese and fresh mozarella. I put the goat cheese around the edges, and the mozarella in the middle, in case it oozed. Once they were all assembled, I baked mine for about 5 minutes until the cheese looked melted, then I popped the pan under the broiler for about 15 seconds. WATCH carefully, they will brown and burn very quickly.
The easiest part of all… Find three friends. Make a salad, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!