I love watching Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, live on Foodnetwork TV. She makes everything look so easy to do at home. I have made lots of her recipes from lots of her books, and I must admit that every one has come out successfully.
The appetizer that I am making today is based on her Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts but I have made it a little simpler and added my own touches. I made this tart twice last week; the first time as an appetizer for dinner at our friends’ home. I then showed the photo of the finished tart to another friend and she asked me to make one for her…so how could I refuse? Now I’m sharing it with you.
Gather up the ingredients that you’ll need: fresh thyme, sliced onions, sliced garlic cloves, and orange juice for the onions. I can’t always find an herb goat cheese but not to worry; I mash the cheese with Herbes de Provence (a French herb blend) and garlic salt. However, something as simple as oregano or basil or thyme, or a mix of all of these will work too. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, some shaved Parmesan slices, fresh basil leaves and some cherry tomatoes still on their stems decorates the finished tart so beautifully.
Preparing one large pie instead of 4 individual tarts is my first time saver. Plus, you will only need one of the 2 puff pastry sheets in the box. This puff pastry can be found in the frozen food section; just take out of the packages inside the box and put the other back in the freezer for another time. By the way, it needs to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using, so plan ahead…and I like to prepare mine in a tart pan with a removable bottom but a pie plate will work also.
Saute the onions and garlic for about 15 minutes until soft and add the salt, pepper, orange juice and thyme until they are golden brown.
Prepare the goat cheese with the herbs that you have chosen…I like adding a little garlic powder or garlic salt for extra oomph.
Roll out the sheet of puff pastry and stretch it over your tart pan. Press along the rim with your fingers and remove any overhang. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect — it will be filled with the toppings and after baking, it will still look wonderful. Puff pastry is very forgiving. Using a fork, poke the bottom of the dough all around. Sprinkle the bottom with a tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese, leaving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch border that will create a nice puffy crust.
Spread the onion/garlic mixture on top of the grated cheese.
Crumble the goat cheese mixture on next, followed by a random arrangement of the tomatoes, snipped to 2 to 4 per stem. Baste the tomatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with julienned basil leaves, salt, pepper and the Parmesan shards.
I like to cook when the sunlight is shining in my kitchen window and I made this on an exceptionally beautiful day. Look how lovely it looks even before it goes into the oven.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 425°F until the crust is golden brown. The tomatoes will have softened and the cheeses will be lightly golden brown. Slice into wedges onto serving plates and enjoy. Beautiful to bring to a buffet table, or as an appetizer, hot or warm.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
- 1/2 package (1 sheet) puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
- olive oil
- 3 thinly sliced yellow onions
- 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved into shards with a vegetable peeler
- 140 gram (a small package) of plain or herbed goat cheese. If plain, mix with garlic salt and Herbes de Provence, or your favourite dried herb(s)
- cherry tomatoes, preferably on the stem
- 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
- Unfold the sheet of puff pastry and very carefully stretch it over your tart pan or pie plate. Press the edges of the plate and discard the extra pastry overhang. Poke the bottom all over of the pastry with a fork.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions and garlic are softened. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, orange juice, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Sprinkle the grated Parmesan on the base of the tart shell, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch border.
- Spread the onion mixture on top of the grated Parmesan, followed by the crumbled goat cheese. Randomly place the tomatoes on the stems, which have been cut into 2, 3, or 4 tomato groupings all over the top. Baste the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with the julienned basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter the shards of Parmesan on each tart.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The tomatoes will start to wrinkle a little as they cook and the cheeses are very lightly brown.
- Cut into wedges onto serving plates and enjoy, hot or warm.