Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Tartlets

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I was asked by mommy dearest to prepare dinner on Good Friday this week, to which I happily agreed. (Let’s be honest, I rarely disagree with food-related requests). One of the guests was a vegetarian, so I had to wrack my carnivorous brain to come up with some good vegetarian dishes.

Needless to say, for someone who adores meat and seafood as much as I do, it was a very traumatic and painful experience. Vegetarian food, and ESPECIALLY vegan food is my Kryptonite.  I blame that on the many mouth-watering, stomach-growling, lips-licking meaty-food distractions I have had over the years. Frankly, I just haven’t given much thought to vegetarian/vegan cuisine, and as such, I have inevitably neglected the veggie side of things.

My experience with vegetarian food is somewhat limited. I have had plenty of Chinese vegetarian food, and absolutely adore it… The Chinese are masters of textured protein products, which means that I eat vegetarian food that tastes juuuuuust like meat, which really does not capture the essence and diversity of all those vegan/veggie foods out there.

This vegetarian guest gave me a perfect stepping stone to venture into the wild world of vegetarian food, so I took this opportunity to discover, adapt and create some vegetarian food that even I would like. Obviously, as a vegetarian novice, I turned to dairy to make things interesting. I will have to learn to be comfortable with my veggies before I even think of courting vegan food. (How you doin? What a nice meatless, dairy-less day. Why don’t we go grab a soy-milk latte and learn more about each other, huh?)

And so, my adventure continued. I experimented and drew inspiration from a few different recipes, and made an Italian inspired appetizer. So here you go, another Nommy Noms recipe, enjoy!

Cherry Tomatoes & Mozarella Cheese Tart

Yields: 6-8

Pie Crust

  • Pastry flour —————————- 1 1/4 Cup
  • Sugar ———————————– 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Salt ————————————– 1/4 Tbs
  • Chilled butter, cubed —————– 85 grams or 6 Tbs
  • Egg Yolk ——————————– 1, From a large egg
  • Vinegar ———————————- 1/2 Tsp
  • Ice water (without the ice) ———– 2 Tbs (up to 3Tbs if needed)

The Fun Part:

  1. Chill cubed butter in a freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with iced water and vinegar.
  3. Add chilled butter to the food processor, until well incorporated into the flour mixture (~30 seconds).                                                                                                                      Image
  4. Add in yolk mixture (pour evenly, all at once), continue to mix in food processor. The dough should come together in a ball form, if not, add an additional 1 Tbs of iced water.           Image
  5. Once ball is formed, wrap tightly with cling film, and place in the fridge and chill for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F/177C.
  7. When chilled, take dough out and let it rest for 5 minutes on a well floured surface. When resting the dough, spray tart moulds with vegetable oil.
  8. Roll out dough on a floured surface  to a sheet of 1/4 inch thick. Spray tart molds with vegetable oil, and divide the dough evenly with a knife or pizza cutter. Place each trimmed piece of pastry over the mold and press gently, only with the fingertips, so that the pastry fits snugly in its tart mold.                                                                            ImageImage
  9. Keep the scraps from the 1st round, and reuse it. Handle the scraps as little as possible.
  10. Using a fork, poke holes in the base of the tart.                                                    Image
  11. Bake the tarts in the oven for about 15 minutes. Shells should NOT be browned, there will be further baking later.
  12. Allow tart shells to cool and take them out of the shell. Once cooled, tart shells can be stored up to 1-2 days in an airtight container.

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Filling

Ingredients

  • Parmesan Cheese ———————————————— ~ 6 Tbs (grated/powdered)
  • Mozzarella cheese (NOT the ones in water) —————- ~ 100 Grams (finely shredded)
  • Cheery/Grape Tomatoes —————————————- 2 Pints (halved)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)———————————————— 1/4 Cup
  • Balsamic vinegar ————————————————— 1 Tbs
  • Sugar —————————————————————– 1 1/2 Tsp
  • Salt ——————————————————————– 1/2 Tsp
  • Chili flakes ———————————————————– 1/2 Tsp
  • Pepper —————————————————————- 1/4 Tsp
  • Garlic —————————————————————— 2 Cloves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2) —————————————— 1 Tbs
  • Fresh basil ———————————————————– a small bunch, coarsely chopped

The Fun Part

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F/ 218 C
  2. Halve the tomatoes and toss it with the oil (1), balsamic, sugar, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Let marinade for 15 minutes.                                                                        Image                         
  3. Make garlic oil: Mince garlic and set aside in a small bowl, add oil (2), and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pop cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until skin is slightly shriveled  Meanwhile, sprinkle ~1/2 Tbs of Parmesan in each tart crust, then top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  5. When cherry tomatoes are done, remove from the pan with a fork, and gently top 4-5 cherry tomato halves onto the tarts. Drizzle with garlic oil, and pop back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.                                                                                                   Image
  6. When tarts are done, sprinkle some basil and serve!                                                   Image
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