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Recipe: Simple Holiday Cheese Tarts

With holiday gatherings around the corner, it is important to have delicious, seasonal finger food, with cheese included.  We’ve included two recipes that will be sure to satiate your guests. They are simple to make and use the best of what’s available at the local grocery store or farmers market. The Spinach, Leek, and Ricotta is delicious for breakfast as well, with a poached or fried egg on top. The Pear and Gorgonzola is excellent with a sparkling wine as a rich appetizer.

Spinach leek tart recipe

Spinach, Leek, and Ricotta Tart

adapted from The Artful Gourmet

Serves 6

  • 1 15 oz container Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp fines herbes, dried
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (can substitute lemon, garlic or chile-infused oils for more flavor)
  • 3 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 leeks, washed with the whites sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (add more or less to adjust heat)
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheeses (Fontina, Parmesan, Romano, Mozzarella)
  • Kosher or Sea Salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground garlic and black pepper seasoning, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, thyme, fines herbes, lemon rind and egg yolk until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach and sauté until it begins to wilt, another 1-2 minutes. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté 1 additional minute. Remove from heat, cover with saucepan lid and set aside.

Roll out pastry dough and sprinkle with a little bit of flour. Score around the edges with a sharp knife to make a 1 inch border and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and minced garlic on the stove or in the microwave for about 1 minute. With a pastry brush, coat the entire pastry sheet with the garlic butter.

Spread the ricotta mixture within the border on to the pastry sheet. Top with spinach, garlic and red pepper topping. Scatter the grated cheeses over the entire tart and season with salt and pepper or garlic pepper seasoning to taste.

Place the tart in the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for about 5-10 minutes.

Pear and Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Tart

adapted from My Recipes

Serves 8

  • 1 sheet thawed frozen puff pastry (8.6 oz)
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup gorgonzola dolce cheese (dolce is more buttery, and less sharp)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 425ºF with a rack set on bottom. Lay dough flat on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Poke holes all over dough with a fork, leaving the outer inch untouched. Bake until dough starts to puff, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together egg and cheese until smooth and spread over dough, using a spoon to move mixture toward the corners. Sauté onion in oil in a frying pan until softened. Scatter onion and pear over cheese.

Bake until pastry is golden brown and egg has set, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and cut into squares.

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