It’s easy to whip up impressive-looking mini tarts for an appetizer or light meal thanks to frozen puff pastry. Also known as pâte feuilletée—try saying that at a party—this light and flaky, buttery pastry is the base for savory shrimp and feta cheese. Or, if you prefer, chicken can be substituted for the shrimp.
The squares of dough look like flower petals when baked, notes local chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who developed this recipe for Real Food. She recommends thawing the package of frozen puff pastry in the refrigerator for several hours or just set it on the counter 40 minutes prior to use. If you unwrap it, separate the two sheets and place each under plastic wrap on the counter; they will be pliable in 30 minutes. The puff pastry should be cold when you work with it though. If it comes to room temperature, put it back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. And when rolling out puff pastry dough, don’t flatten the edges too thinly or they will not give an impressive puff.
Shrimp, Red Pepper and Feta Mini Tarts
Makes 6 tarts
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (or 4 ounces raw chicken breast)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large scallions, chopped
2 medium roasted red bell peppers from a jar, drained and patted dry, chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 sheet puff pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Lightly oil 6 muffin tin cups and reserve.
3. If the shrimp were thawed from frozen or damp, wrap them in a double layer of paper towel and dry well. Chop the shrimp (or chicken) into 1⁄2-inch pieces.
4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, add the scallions and stir for 1 minute. Add the chopped shrimp or chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes for shrimp. When the shrimp is pink (or the chicken cooked through), add the roasted peppers and parsley and stir, just until the pan is dry. Transfer the shrimp (or chicken) mixture to a medium bowl and let cool.
5. When cooled, stir in the feta, egg, thyme and black pepper.
6. Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured counter and roll the rectangle out slightly to make an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in 6 4-by-4-inch squares. Place each square on an oiled muffin cup and gently press the center to meet the bottom of the tin, leaving the four corners draped over the top of the pan. Scoop a heaping 1/4 cup filling per serving into the cups.
7. Bake 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is set and firm. Cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before using a paring knife inserted between the tart and the pan to slip each tart out onto the rack or a plate. Serve warm.
Shrimp & Feta Tarts Nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 255 (151 From Fat); FAT 17g (Sat. 6g); CHOL 71mg; SODIUM 376mg; CARB 17g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 9g