The other week I hosted a lovely summer get-together for my work colleagues. As usual, time ran away with us. We were chatting and enjoying our nibbles, the Italian Tagliata Sharing Platter Italian and so many other goodies for so long, that I did not get round to making dessert. We lazily grazed on a cheese board and chutneys instead.
Dessert would have been my Rustic Peach and Pistachio Galette. I still made the galette a few days later, but it was on a much smaller scale than originally envisaged. So I had an extra pack of puff pastry waiting patiently in the fridge for some serious tart action.
I also had feta and a few other bits and pieces left over from my gorgeous stuffed pork tenderloin. So yes, hurrah, this is yet another recipe born out of leftovers. And you all know how I love getting creative with leftovers!
Using leftovers is all about looking at the contents of your fridge, freezer and cupboard with fresh eyes. What will be thrown away, unless I use it today? What works together? Think type of cuisine, but also colour, texture and flavour profile: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury umami.
But these tartlets are worth shopping for too, as they are simple yet delicious crowd-pleasers.
You can make one big tart to share (round, oblong or free-form), make individual tartlets or even teeny-weeny-tiny ones to serve as canapés.
The soft cheeses can be anything you like, either just one or a mixture of your favs. This works great with goats cheese, ricotta, cream cheese or mascarpone. Fold in grated Parmesan if you have it for texture and another layer of flavour.
Choose the best juicy fresh tomatoes you can afford. Different colours, sizes, textures, all are beautiful.
You can play around with the pesto too. Of course you can use a good jarred one or one of those “fresh tubs”. But if you can make your own, all the better. I’m using my spinach, walnut and mixed herb pesto here, but a classic basil pesto or my kale and cashew pesto all work too.
Three Cheese, Thyme and Tomato Tartlets (serves 4 as a starter – V RSF)
Serve as a starter or with a salad as a light lunch.
300 gr mixed tomatoes, halved, quartered or sliced depending on size
2 sprigs of thyme
100 gr mascarpone
100 gr soft goats cheese
80 gr feta
100 gr semi-dried tomatoes in oil, drained but oil reserved
a small handful of green and black pitted olives, halved or quartered depending on size, drainend but reserve a tbsp or 2 of the oil from the tub or jar
1-2 (Confit) Garlic cloves, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
4-5 tbsp pesto
375 gr puff pastry
flour for rolling the pastry
To serve: Rocket or fresh basil leaves, extra feta and pesto
Mix together the cheeses, lemon zest, 1 generous tbsp pesto and season to taste.
Combine the oil from the tomatoes and the olives with a little more oil and stir in the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Add the fresh tomatoes. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 190 C.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut into your preferred shape(s). I used a small plate to cut 4 circles of approx 15 cm diameter. Gently score an inner border of approx 1 1/2 cm . Be careful not to cut all the way through.
Place the pastry shapes onto a baking mat or greaseproof paper and then onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 mins or so or until puffed up.
Remove the pastry from the oven and gently push down the middles (this is what the scored border was for).
Top each pastry shape with a few tbsp of the cheese mixture, staying within the border you just created.
Return back to the oven for 5 mins or so. Meanwhile drain the tomatoes, reserving the oil.
Top the tartlets with the fresh tomatoes, olives and semi-dried tomatoes. The more haphazard and rustic, the better. Blob on a little pesto here and there, then crumble over some feta. Finish with a little drizzle of the reserved tomato oil to finish.
Bake for 6-8 mins.
Top with a little more pesto and a little more feta before serving. A scattering of rocket or fresh basil is optional.
Best served warm rather than piping hot. Use any remaining tomato oil on the side salad you may be serving this with.