My sister called me the other day on her way to the grocery store. Her in-laws were arriving in town in about an hour. She wanted to welcome them with a little something to eat and thought of these spinach tarts I had made a while back. I wished I had posted this recipe online already but it was easy enough to talk her through over the phone.
If you keep a box of frozen spinach and a sheet of frozen puff pastry in the freezer you can make this hors d’oeuvres on very little notice. There are a few other ingredients as well, but in a pinch you can substitute the feta cheese with any cheese you have in the fridge and use sour cream, crème fraiche, or even cream cheese in place of the cream.
Makes 24 mini spinach tarts
Preparation time: 25 minutes
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I usually use Pepperidge Farm, but there are excellent all-butter ones out there), roughly 9 ½ by 10 ½ inches and a little more than 1/8 inch thick
1 well-packed cup cooked spinach, with all excess water squeezed out (this equals one package of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of all excess water)
¼ cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata
2 tablespoons cream
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt, to taste (keeping in mind the saltiness of feta if you are using it)
Zest of half lemon
A few gratings of nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Allow to defrost slightly at room temperature while you prepare spinach filling.
- In a food processor, pulse together spinach, cheese, cream, egg, salt, lemon zest, and nutmeg until well combined and lightly pureed.
- When the puff pastry has softened slightly but is still quite cold, unfold it and roll it out slightly ib a non-stick or lightly floured surface just to thin it out a bit, until it is roughly 10 x 13 to 14 inches. Cut the puff pastry into 24 squares. If some of them are a little narrow, don’t worry about it; they are easy enough to stretch out by hand as you fill the muffin pan.
- Press a cut square/rectangle gently into each of the cups of a miniature muffin pan. Make sure the pastry dough is pressed against the inner surfaces of the muffin cup but without pressing overly hard into the dough. (If you press too hard and start to warm up the dough a lot, the tarts will be more difficult to remove when they are cooked. They don't have to look perfect, though. If the corners stick out at odd angles or the dough doesn't come right up to the top edge, that's fine. Once they puff up, they'll look great.)
- With two small spoons, place a teaspoon or so of the filling into each of the puff pastry cups.
- Bake until puff pastry is golden brown, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and let tarts cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing them. They should come out very easily, but you can use a small offset spatula to help loosen any stubborn tarts.