Goat Cheese, Tomato & Herb Tarts

Puff pastry … what can I say about its buttery and flaky goodness?  It is delicious!  I realize that it is not the healthiest of treats, but it is a treat nonetheless.  Even though I have blogged about it many times, I eat it and feed it to my family sparingly.  Recently, I have been on a hunt to find “healthier” puff pastry, if there is such a thing; one that does not have any chemicals, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils in it.  And one that I do not have to make myself.  After all, it stays in the freezer until it is used; so, why does it need to have chemicals or preservatives of any kind?  The wonderful thing is I finally found one that has butter, flour, water, salt, and lemon juice ONLY!  So exciting!  Granted it is more expensive than the regular puff pastry that is easily found at the grocery store, but it is definitely worth it.  Oh, and this is a really good dish to serve to a group of brunch guests.

GOAT CHEESE, TOMATO, AND HERB TARTS

Serves 8

12 oz Goat cheese – room temperature
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus more to drizzle
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 sheets Puff Pastry
4 Kumato* Tomatoes
8 Thyme sprigs
4 Oregano sprigs
12 – 24 sweet Basil leaves – garnish
1 – 2 tablespoons organic Butter – to grease ramekins

Egg Wash

1 organic Egg
1 tablespoon water

*Kumato tomatoes are European-bred tomatoes that are becoming popular and available in the US.  They range in color, but the ones I am using are dark green and dark red.  Their flavor is deep, rich, and sweet.  They are much more flavorful than vine ripe, Roma, or beefsteak tomatoes found at the store.

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 40 minutes or leave in the refrigerator for 3 hours, until you are able to work with it.  You can always follow the directions on the box.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 8 ramekins with butter, while you tend to the goat cheese.  In a bowl, mix the goat cheese with the extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Flour a clean area on your cutting board or counter, and spread the puff pastry.  The pastry needs to still be very cold to be fluffy; it just needs to be manageable.  Roll it out a few times, and cut each sheet into four equal pieces.  Place each square of puff pastry into the buttered ramekins.  Spoon about 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of goat cheese onto each puff pastry tart.  Drizzle each tart with a little bit of olive oil.  Brush the sides with egg wash, and place in the oven for about 12 – 15 minutes, or until the desired golden brown puff pastry crust is achieved.

Slice each Kumato tomato into four slice, and place two slices on each tart.  You may use any tomato you would like, but the flavor of the Kumato tomatoes is wonderful with the goat cheese.  Remove all the thyme leave and oregano leaves from the sprigs, and chop them.  Sprinkle the chopped thyme and oregano liberally over all the tarts.  Sprinkle a final touch of salt and pepper.  Garnish with a few sweet basil leaves and serve.  I hope you like it, as much as I do.


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