The word “tart” is probably one of the culinary world's most used homonyms. First of all, “tart” used as an adjective has to do with taste. Think bitter, sour or acerbic. But today I’d like to focus on “tart” the noun. This kind of tart comes in many forms: sweet, savory, short crust based, puff pastry based, fruit-filled, custard-filled, cheesy, etc., and is usually served as either an appetizer or dessert.
The tart I’ve decided to whip up this week is a mix of sweet and savory — roasted grapes and goat cheese — on a bed of flaky puff pastry crust. It’s an easy-to-prepare, classy appetizer perfect during any season.
So why did I pick puff pastry over a short crust pie dough? Honestly, I’m a lazy baker and puff dough is easy; just grab it from the freezer, thaw, then bake. It’s also a party food lifesaver and should always be kept on hand for last-minute appetizers, main dish accouterments and desserts. For flavor, always choose puff dough made with butter, not vegetable shortening, as it will give you a buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth product versus one with a weird aftertaste. Another chef’s tip: an egg wash (see recipe below) will give the puff pastry a golden-brown kiss of color.
Try out this sweet, savory, and not too tart (the adjective) tart recipe that’s topped with roasted grapes, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh rosemary. It’s a breeze to bake up and your party guests will surely be impressed.
Roasted Grape, Goat Cheese, Walnut Tart
Make about 12-16 appetizer servings
2 cups red grapes (or any seedless grape of your choosing)
1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed*
1 egg, beaten with 1-tablespoon water (for egg wash)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 sprig of rosemary (or substitute fresh thyme)
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt, as needed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put grapes on a baking sheet pan, and sprinkle with a little salt. Put pan in the oven and roast for about eight minutes, or until the grapes just start to burst. When grapes are out of the oven, let them cool and lower the oven heat to 400 degrees.
Unfold the thawed puff pastry dough and carefully place it on a piece of parchment paper (it usually comes packaged with one) or aluminum foil on a baking sheet tray. If you want to make a border crust, fold over a ¼-inch of all of the edges. With a fork, prick holes all over the dough and “crimp” down the edges of the crust with it. Brush the dough with a light coating of egg wash all over.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray around halfway through cooking time to ensure it's evenly done.
After 20 minutes, or when crust is puffed up and golden, remove crust from oven. Prick the dough with a fork if it has risen too high. Evenly top the puff dough with grapes, followed by the goat cheese, walnuts, and rosemary. Lightly sprinkle a little salt and nutmeg on top. Give the exposed crust edges another brush with the egg wash and put the tart back in the oven for five minutes or until the cheese is warmed and gooey.
Let the tart cool a bit before cutting and serving. Right before serving, drizzle honey on top. This can be served warm or at room temperature.
*To best thaw puff pastry, leave it in the refrigerator (in its package) overnight or on the counter top, right out of the freezer, for 30-45 minutes.
For more recipes from Katie, visit culinarypirate.com.