I catered a cocktail party the other day and tarts were on the menu. I thought long and hard about what kind to make and in the end, I decided on making individual ones because they make a better presentation. I am all about doing things that are beautiful but I don’t bake, so I always opt for pre-made crusts. I was aiming to use Pepperidge Farm tartlets, but of course, I didn’t discover until I was about to bake, that I had actually purchased SHELLS instead. (Shells are bigger than tartlets.) Of course this made me panic, but I decided to bake a few of them to see what happened and to my surprise, I liked how they looked.
Translate this to, “I don’t want to have to go to the store to start over, so I’m going with this!” It’s hard to tell from this photo but these things are about the size of cupcakes. I was really in search of something half this size. Anyway, they baked up really nicely (18 minutes tops). So that first step was simple.
Second step is to fill these bad boys with my ricotta mixture. (Ricotta mixed with grated Fontina, Italian spices, lemon zest, a little fresh grated Parmesan cheese & a pinch of nutmeg.)
Then comes a layer of caramelized onions. We made a huge pot of these the day before, but you can make them whenever you want.
Toppings come next. We sliced these using a mandolin set on the thinnest setting. The way to make tarts work is to try to get as much of the liquid out of your vegetables as possible. We sliced these, laid them out on paper towels, the sprinkled them with salt and let them sit for half an hour. After this, we patted them dry and they were ready to use.
I made the little shapes simply by folding my zucchini medallions in half and then in half again. I loved how they turned out. Once you are satisfied with how you’ve decorated your tarts, paint on some garlic olive oil and bake for just about 10 minutes. The key here to remember is that the shells are already baked,so you must be careful not to brown them too much.
Also, I made a huge mistake and covered them after I was finished with them. I wanted them to be warm and poof, they got soggy. These are best served pretty soon OR just leave them out at room temp and if you must warm them, throw them in the oven uncovered, just prior to serving.
- 2 package of Pepperidge Farm Puffed Pastry Shells (6 come in a package)
- 1 c. Ricotta Cheese
- 1 c. freshly grated Fontina Cheese (you can substitute shredded Swiss cheese)
- 1/2 freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Zest
- 1 Teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 onions chopped and caramelized
- 3-4 Zucchini sliced paper thin
- 1-2 plum tomatoes diced or sliced (depends on how you want to use them to decorate)
- Salt & Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Smash your garlic and combine it with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Set aside.
- Pre-bake the pastry shells according to package directions.
- Slice the zucchini and tomatoes using a mandolin. Lay out on paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Leave them out for at least 30 minutes, then blot them dry as possible using more paper towels.
- Thinly slice the onions, saute low and slow in a pan with 2 Tbsp butter & 1 Tbsp Olive oil until they slowly brown and become caramelized. Set aside to cool. (This step can be done a day or two before. Just store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator.)
- In a bowl, combine the Ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan cheese, Italian Seasoning, lemon zest, nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste.
- Assemble the tarts by starting with a layer of the cheese, then the onions, then arrange your vegetables how you like them. Brush with garlic olive oil and bake uncovered about ten minutes.
**These tarts can sit on the counter up to 2 hours prior to being cooked.**
**Serve warm or at room temperature.