Friday, May 5, 2017

Spinach Puff Pastry Tarts

Last Year's Post: Persian Grilled Chicken with Saffron
Two Years Ago:   Toasted Couscous Salad

The filling for these tarts is very similar to Greek spanakopita, but puff pastry is substituted for phyllo dough which makes them much easier and faster to prepare.  You could cut them into small pieces for an appetizer, or serve them as a vegetarian entree with a tomato and cucumber salad on the side.  They're savory, crisp and light with the airy puff pastry and some crunch from the sesame seeds and pine nuts.

Valbreso sheep's milk feta from France is one of my recent discoveries.  I prefer it to normal chunk or crumbled feta that you find in the grocery store deli section, which I think is quite sharp and very salty.  The Valbreso feta is less salty and more creamy than other varieties, so it's worth looking for.  I've found it in upscale grocers, natural food stores and Costco (of course).

Puff pastry needs to thaw for about 40 minutes before unfolding, which gives you time to thaw the spinach and prepare the filling.  After rolling, cutting and assembling the tarts they bake for about 20 minutes, so start to finish the recipe takes a little over an hour.

Spinach Puff Pastry Tarts
Yields 2 - 6” square tarts

1 sheet of Puff Pastry (thawed according to instructions on the packet)
1¼ cups frozen spinach
¼ yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup ricotta
½ cup feta, crumbled
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
Salt and pepper, according to taste
1 egg + 1/2 tbsp water for egg wash
Sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 425d.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Thaw spinach in the microwave and drain well.  Place in a clean dishtowel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and sauté the onion until it turns soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the spinach.  Stir to combine, then place the pan off the heat to cool.

 While the spinach mixture is cooling, season the ricotta cheese generously with salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the cooled spinach mixture to the ricotta and mix thoroughly with a fork. Add the feta and optional pine nuts and mix gently to combine.

Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl and set aside.

When ready to assemble, unfold the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and roll to form a roughly 12”x12” square.  Cut in half horizontally and vertically to form four 6”x6” squares.  Divide the filling equally between two squares and spread evenly to within ½” of the edge on all sides.   Place another sheet on top of the spinach mixture and use your fingers to press down and seal the edges around the spinach, then use a fork to crimp the edges.  Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds. Make three small slits in the top of each tart with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape while baking.

Transfer the tarts to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden and puffed.  Cut in half to serve.

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