With the holidays in full swing now, these simple but elegant spinach & cheese puff tarts are the perfect recipe to WOW your guests and family! These can be made in advance, and kept in the fridge or freezer! Just reheat and serve!
So wow it’s like *counts on her fingers* 12 days till Thanksgiving! However if you’re in any store or mall now we’ve apparently already had Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’ and are ready for Valentine’s day. I get the whole being ready for the holidays and all but come on, let me enjoy my holiday AT the time of my holiday! I shouldn’t have to buy Halloween candy in July, my turkey in September, and my Christmas tree in October. However, that seems to be an acceptable thing now so I might as well go along with the flow; well that is food-wise at least *wink*
Okay, seriously I’m ALL about holiday parties, get-togethers, and the foods. That’s when I think houses look the prettiest – the lights, decorations, and stuff. Plus the food is just so much ….more. Sure during the warmer months, we all have great food but for me, there’s just something a tad more special about holiday foods.
I think for me it all started as a kid. Every party we had Mom made it a big deal. To this day I honestly have no idea where the foods came from as we were really poor; no seriously like REALLY poor but yet Mom would put out a spread that would rival any restaurant. Starting right before Thanksgiving until the day after New Year’s Day the cooking, baking, and holiday festivities were never-ending.
Mom would bake for hours every day, for weeks on end. Stuff would go into the freezers (yes we had multiple), stuff was shipped, stuff was given to drop-ins (this was a common thing – just random folks showing up at our house just because), and stuff was ‘stolen’ from her stash because it tasted so amazing.
Mom first introduced me to puff pastry when I was about 7 or 8 years old. She made it from scratch and I can remember it being labor intensive but also time-consuming. She didn’t make it often but when she did it was truly a treat. I can remember sitting in the chair asking 937 questions – “why are you putting the butter on like that, why are you folding it, why are you flipping and rotating it, why, why, why?” However she never got upset when I asked, she’d simply smile and explain it to me – even if I asked the same thing 5 times.
The first time I remember her using it, she was making these chocolate tarts. Thinking about it now, it was nothing more than puff pastry filled with chocolate chips and then brushed with egg wash and coarse sugar. When it came out of the oven it got a light dusting of cocoa. However, when she pulled that first tray out of the oven my eyes got huge. Those things…well they puffed up! It was magic! So flaky and crisp. That first bite, hearing those layers crunch and crack only to get a mouthful of melted chocolate. Oh, Dear God! This was true sorcery!
This recipe is inspired by her recipe – or at least the concept. Puff pastry and shaped into a tart. This recipe came to fruition out of necessity and honestly, scrambling for something to put in them. You see we were invited to a party and it wasn’t until the morning of did we realize that we could go. With us spending every waking minute on this damn house remodel, we barely have a social life. So that morning of the party when we realized we could go I had to scramble in my house to figure out what I could make. I grabbed the puff pastry out of the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw. Next came the opening and closing of every cabinet, fridge, and freezer door… multiple times.
Why is that? Why do we think that if look in a cabinet, close it then re-open it that the contents will change? Yet we all are guilty of it. LOL
Since I wasn’t seeing anything but cheese in the fridge I figured I’d just go with cheese tarts. While they are great, it was just well, just cheese – kind of boring ya know? So into the garage to check out the big freezer. And it’s as if the freezer gods were sending me a message because as soon as I opened up the door there sat a bag of frozen spinach. BONUS!!!!
So into the kitchen I went, the frozen spinach got emptied into a colander to thaw and drain and I went about my day for about an hour. One thing you have to keep in mind about spinach, frozen especially, is that it holds an INCREDIBLE amount of water.
You need to seriously squeeze/press this stuff down to get most to all of the liquid out. If you don’t your filling will turn soupy and your pastry will be soggy. And no one wants a soggy pastry. In this recipe, you’ll see the ingredients are pretty simple – cheese, egg, seasoning, and spinach. You can easily add different items to it. This is incredible with roasted red peppers and artichokes in the mixture. You can also add cooked meats – this with shredded chicken or shrimp is amazing!
Also, you could easily make one big one instead of 4 tarts per sheet of pastry. You could make these in buttered muffin tins as well. Seriously the recipe is that versatile!
Lean in and I’m going to share with you a secret…
Now you can’t tell anyone, k? Does pinkie swear? *Extends her pinkie* If you take this same filling and add scrambled eggs, bacon, and chopped sausage, it makes one of the BEST breakfast pastries… EVER. No seriously, like EVER! Plus you can totally make them ahead of time and freeze them! When you’re ready to eat, just pop them in the toaster oven to reheat at – 350F for 5-10 minutes! But shhh… it’ll just be between us, k? *wink*
Also here’s one final tidbit, if you wanted to make these appetizer size, it’s super simple. Right now you cut each puff pastry in quarters. Well once you do that, then cut each square into 4 pieces. Fill those the same way, with considerably less filling, and bake. They turn out SUPER adorable and totally poppable! And just like the big daddies, they are freezable!
Now get your butt to the store and grab these ingredients. Trust me, this will be the star of your holiday table!
- 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, drained and squeezed (measured after squeezed)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup shredded fontina or gruyere
- 2 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3/4 black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F, line 2 baking pans with parchment, and set aside. In a bowl mix together the seriously squeezed spinach (yes you really need to squeeze as much liquid out of it as possible!), 1 egg, cheeses, garlic, shallots, parsley, salt, and pepper until it’s all combined.
- In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg until frothy.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 sheet of the puff pastry until it forms a 12×12” square. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 equal squares. Take a clean pastry brush and brush the flour off of the pastry then place on one of the baking pans 2” apart. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the middle of the pastry. Grabbing opposite corners, put them up and over the filling pinching slightly. Repeat with the opposite corners pinching them all together. Repeat with the other squares on the pan. Grab the other sheet of puff pastry and repeat. Lightly brush the pastry puffs with the egg wash.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the puffs have turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge.
Roast up some mushrooms, onions, broccoli and cauliflower. Add those to the mixture for a great vegetarian meal! Add in about 1 cup of chopped roasted veggies to the mix!
To the mix add chopped salami, pepperoni, cooked sausage, shredded beef, or shredded chicken (about 1/2-1 cup).