April 21, 2009

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

It is vegetarian night again, folks! Hooray!!! Okay...maybe that is a little too enthusiastic, but I am super-excited for tonight's selection. Also, I just had to lay down on the bed to zip up my jeans. Not good. To be fair, they did just come out of the dryer. At the rate I am going, I need some more healthy vegetarian meals so my clothes fit better. Anywho...did I just over-share???? Oh well. I am just going to blame the whole scenario on the "meatfest" that we had over Easter week, and move on.

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I am sure will be a hit. It is chock-full of ingredients that we love...goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, and puff pastry. Seriously, I don't know how this dish could be anything but a winner. Hopefully, I didn't just jinx it!!! So, now that I think about it...maybe this isn't the healthiest vegetarian recipe that I have ever made. Puff pastry is not really considered a "health food". Darn! Sigh...it looks like I am not out of the woods yet with my too-tight jeans. They will stretch, right????

Our standard, weeknight salad and veggies will be our side dishes, so at least that will be good for us! I will let you know how it all comes together.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
By: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina Garten

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Jen's Notes:
Okay...there are a few substitutions I need to make. First, I have regular goat cheese and not herbed Montrachet. Also, I don't have any fresh thyme, so dried will have to work. Everything else I have on hand. (Is it no surprise that dry white wine is not a problem???)
I think I am only going to make 2 actual tarts-one for me, and one for the hubs. I may try and make a mini-tart from the scraps for my son, but I can't see making a whole third tart just for him. If that does not work, the boy may just have to live with chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly (which he adorably calls, "Peeking-na butter and jelly"). I really don't like to feed him a different meal; hopefully, I can piece together some sort of little tart for him.

The Result:
First things, first. You may notice that my tart is not a cute, little, round thing like the directions indicate. I skipped that part. I had squares of puff pastry and I decided to take the lazy way out. Also, we really didn't care if the tarts were round or cut squares or whatever. Whew!!! I am glad I got that off my chest!!! The squares behaved themselves...so I didn't have any issues with the shape.

Now, this recipe was really good. It was reminiscent of a fancy-schmancy puff pastry pizza. I wouldn't say amazing...but really, really, really good. We were all "ummmm"-ing around the table. So A+ for flavor. With that being said...I doubt I will make these tarts again, though. They would be a good item to make for a dinner party or for dinner guests, but not something I want to do again for a week night meal. This dish took way longer than I expected it to take; and frankly, that both irked and surprised me. The recipe is not that complicated, but somehow, someway, it too me an hour and a half to make. Ugh. I was peeved, to say the least! We did find it tasty, and it was very satisfying....just a little too labor-intensive for me. The worst part is that I am not even sure why it was so labor-intensive!!!! It was fairly easy and it is not like it was outside of my realm of cooking or anything. It was not brain surgery!!! I don't know...maybe I just wasn't in the mood last night or something. Anyway, if this recipe looks appealing to you, I would say go ahead and try it. You certainly won't be disappointed with the flavors. Ina delivered on taste, for sure. Just give yourself plenty of time, and maybe have a glass of wine while you are cooking.

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