I checked my pantry and refridg to see what I had available – I spied a box of puff pastry in the freezer and decided to make a savory tart. I had a nice piece of Fontina cheese, a couple beautiful Anjou pears and a bag of fresh arugula – I pulled these out and got to work.
The tart is easy to put together – roll out puff pastry, just a bit, and cut circles to fit individual tart pans. Press dough circles into the small pans. Add a handful of shredded Fontina and arrange paper thin sliced pears over the top in a rose pattern. Finish it off with a brush of melted butter combined with brown sugar and a touch of Grand Marnier. Bake until the cheese is melted, the crust golden and crisp and the pears are glistening and glazed.
We both loved this lunch and I will definitely be making it again. It would make a lovely first course for an elegant dinner party or the perfect light lunch for a group of friends. It is delicious warm or at room temperature. The tart can be made ahead and briefly reheated in the oven, if desired. The dressing for the salad can also be made in advance, making the last minute preparation super simple.
Oh, and speaking of the salad, the peppery arugula pairs quite nicely with the savory, cheesy tart. The dressing is simple, lemony and flavorful and would be wonderful on just about any salad. Just throw all the ingredients in a glass jar and give a good shake – that’s it! Bon Appetit!
- ½ 17 ounce pacake ready-rolled puff pastry, unthawed
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1 ½ Anjou pears (or other firm, red skinned pears), peeled, cored and very thinly sliced (paper-thin - use the sharpest knife in your drawer or a mandolin, if you have one - I don't)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces fresh arugula (baby spinach would also be delicious)
- 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. You will need 4 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms.
- Roll out puff pastry to a 11x11 inch square. Using a saucer or pan cover that is approximately 5 inches in diameter, cut out 4 circles. Line the tart pans with the pastry circles, pressing to cover the bottoms and up the sides. Lightly prick the bottom surfaces with a fork.
- Divide the shredded Fontina cheese between the 4 tart pans.
- Arrange the pear slices decoratively on top of the cheese; beginning at the outer edges of the tart pan, stand the slices up and press into the exposed Fontina, working your way inward, creating the shape of a rose. Continue to bend and overlap the pears all the way to the center. It will take very thin slices to curl in the middle. If you're in a crunch for time, just arrange the pears in a random fashion on top of the cheese - the tarts will still look pretty as you can see in the picture below.
- Combine the Grand Marnier*, butter and brown sugar, stir well and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir again until sugar is dissolved.
- Brush the pears with the butter mixture, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until pastry is golden, and pears are glistening and glazed.
- For salad dressing, place vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a glass jar. Cover tightly and shake well till well combined.
- Place 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing in a medium size bowl. Add arugula and toss to coat. Place a tart on each plate along with a mound of arugula salad. Pass extra dressing at the table.
Tarts can be made in advance and reheated for 10 minutes in a hot oven.
Dressing can be made and stored refrigerated for 1-2 weeks.