Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tomato + Goat Cheese + (Sea Asparagus) Pesto Squares: Easy Mini Tarts for Holiday Entertaining

A quick and easy little pupu (appetizer) that is perfect for the holidays, and localized with a couple of special ingredients. At I Heart Cooking Clubs we are celebrating tarts and pies this week. I fear crusts. They intimidate me. Sad, I know. ;-) It's not even about having a bad experience with them--the few times I have attempted pastry crust it has turned out fine. I just don't like the stress and hassle. So, I looked for the most simple Donna Hay "tart" recipe I could find and came across these Tomato + Goat Cheese Squares from the December/January 2011 holiday issue of Donna Hay Magazine. 

In the Short Cuts: Cheats + Quick Fixes section, the crust is puff pastry, scored and baked with cherry tomatoes, then topped with pesto, goat cheese and baby arugula leaves. In between rainstorms this weekend, I headed to the little farmers market by my house and was 'sampled' to death ;-) by the sea asparagus (aka samphire) guy--with bites of salad dressing, salsa verde, pesto and the briny little fronds themselves. The Ocean Pesto, made with sea asparagus and macadamia nuts, is one of my favorites so I thought it would be fun to use it on these little squares and add a bit of sea asparagus on top instead of the arugula leaves.

Tomato + Goat Cheese + (Sea Asparagus) Pesto Squares
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 54
(Makes 36)

 Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. (400 degrees F.)

Using a small, sharp knife, score 1 sheet thawed store-bought puff pastry with 36 x 4cm squares (36 squares total). Top squares with halved yellow and red cherry tomatoes, brush with oil and bake 20-25 minutes. 

Top with goat cheese, store-bought pesto and baby arugula leaves to serve.

Notes/Results: These are fun little bites of crispy, buttery pastry with the sweet local baby tomatoes contrasting nicely with the pesto, tangy goat cheese and the briny bits of sea asparagus. I think they would be equally good as the recipe was written with regular pesto and the slightly bitter arugula. Easy to pop into your mouth and very tasty without a lot of effort to put them together making them an excellent addition to the holiday pupu platter. I will make these again. 

You can check out the different tarts and pies the IHCC participants made for the "Are You Calling Me a Tart?" theme this week by going to the post and following the links.  


  1. These are darling, and I love the combination of flavors. How great these would be on a holiday platter, you are right about that...marking this for then. I used to fear pie/tart crusts as well. A few years ago I made a pie a day for a month (I kid you not, and I gifted almost all of them away so I made a lot of friends!) and was determined to become so familiar with pie dough that it would not intimidate me. It worked. I used Martha's recipe one week, Nick Malgieri's the next week, Dorie Greenspan's the next week, and Rose's Pie and Pastry book the last week. I can make crust like you would not! Anyway, your little tarts look wonderful, a great choice and one I will steal, so thanks in advance!

  2. Becca @ Amuse Your BoucheNovember 13, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    Perfect combination of flavours! Love these!

  3. I'm telling you, that puff pastry sure is easy to work with, isn't it? Never a problem and it is so darn buttery, flaky and delicious! Really fun to read about the ocean pesto. I'm definitely intrigued with the idea of sea asparagus. These would be really pretty for the holidays, but I would eat them any time of year. They look delicious!

  4. Sea asparagus makes an appearance again and I'm still jealous that you can come by it so easily. These sound like tasty little bites and the festive colours are perfect for the holiday season.

  5. I wanted to make a tart with goat cheese and these are adorable on top of being pretty and delicious. I ended making one with ricotta but next time, it has to be goat cheese. Isn't puff pastry a dream to work with?

  6. I've never even heard of sea asparagus..going to have to be on the lookout for that one. your tarts looks so colorful and appetizing

  7. Fabulous pupu! I am intrigued with the sea asparagus ever since I've seen a recipe of Ottolenghi using it. Have not seen it around here before. Never knew there is a Sea Asparagus pesto! Sounds very interesting and these pupu looks really delicious!

  8. This is surely a delicious snack! Green asparagus, red tomatoes, white goat cheese and golden puff pastry, great combination, which make them addictive!

  9. Cute little tarts. That sea asparagus pesto looks interesting.

  10. Couscous & ConsciousnessNovember 16, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    Gorgeous, Deb. These look like very delicious little tarts, and a great easy treat to prepare for a gathering. Love the sound of that ocean pesto - I'm so envious that you can get samphire there.

  11. Oh boy! I have to make a table of food for our little church's fellowship coffee on December 1st ... these will be spread out for the church ladies! Thanks for the brilliant idea!

  12. Beautiful Deb & love the sound of the ocean pesto! These little bites are perfect for the upcoming party season!


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