The word “tart” is probably one of the most used homonyms in culinary terms. First of all, “tart” used as an adjective has to do with taste — like bitter, sour or acerbic. But today I’d like to focus on “tart” the noun. This kind of tart can come in many, many forms: sweet, savory, shortcrust based, puff pastry based, fruit-filled, custard-filled, cheesy, etc., and is usually served as either an appetizer or dessert.
The tart I’ve decided to whip up this week is a mix of sweet and savory — roasted grapes and goat cheese — on a bed of flaky puff pastry crust. It’s an easy-to-prepare, classy appetizer that’d be perfect for a fête during any season.
So why did I pick puff pastry over a short crust pie dough? Honestly, I’m a lazy baker and puff dough is as easy as grabbing from the freezer, thawing then baking. It’s also a party food lifesaver and should always be kept onhand for last-minute appetizers, main dishes accoutrements and desserts. For flavor, always choose puff dough made with butter, not vegetable shortening, as it will give you a buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth product versus one with a weird aftertaste. Another cook’s tip: an egg wash (see recipe below) will give puff pastry a golden-brown kiss of color.
Try out this sweet, savory, and not too tart (the adjective) tart recipe that’s topped with roasted grapes, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh rosemary. It’s a breeze to bake up and your party guests will surely be impressed.
Roasted Grape, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Tart
Makes about 12-16 appetizer servings
2 cups red grapes (or any seedless grape of your choosing)
1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed*
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 sprig of rosemary (or substitute fresh thyme)
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt, as needed
Preheat oven to 450º. Put grapes on a baking sheet pan, and sprinkle with a little salt. Put pan in the oven and roast for about 8 minutes, or until the grapes just start to burst. When grapes are out of the oven, let them cool and lower the oven heat to 400º.
Unfold the thawed puff pastry dough and carefully place it on a piece of parchment paper (it usually comes packaged with one) or aluminum foil on a baking sheet tray. If you want to make a border crust, fold over a 1/4″ of all of the edges. With a fork, prick holes all over the dough and “crimp” down the edges of the crust with it. Brush the dough with a light coating of egg wash all over. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, turning it the tray around halfway through cooking time to ensure even doneness.
After 20 minutes, or when crust is puffed up and golden, remove crust from oven. Prick the dough with a fork if it has risen too high. Evenly top the puff dough with grapes, followed by the goat cheese, walnuts, and rosemary. Lightly sprinkle a little salt and nutmeg on top. Give the exposed crust edges another brush with the egg wash and put the tart back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is warmed and gooey.
Let the tart cool a bit before cutting and serving. Right before serving, drizzle honey on top. This can be served warm or at room temperature.
*To best thaw puff pastry, leave it in the refrigerator (in its package) overnight or on the countertop, right out of the freezer, for 30-45 minutes.