Happy 2016, y’all! I can hardly believe that it is the beginning of another year. As I reflect on 2015, my mind continuously returns to time spent with loved ones, whether it was my sister’s wedding weekend, watching a Carolina game with friends or exploring Italy with Alex. Along with friends and family, the other common denominator in all those experiences is tasty food. I may not always be able to tell you the month or year something occurred, but you can bet that I remember what we ate.
Which brings me to how I feel about appetizers – they are often forgettable. If I am going to take the time to prepare something, I want it to be tasty and eye-catching. I know, I know, I am a demanding home cook. These requirements made me stop scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day when I saw this Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil from Smitten Kitchen pop up. Pretty to look at? Check. Mediterranean flavors? Check. Ability to eat with your hands? Check! Now I needed to explore how to make it. While I love recipes from SK, they can be time-consuming (read: frustrating when you are short on time) and tedious. Not this one. I promise it is easier to prepare than it looks – give it a try and have a bright, wonderful 2016.
Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-16 oz package puffed pastry that comes in 2 sheets (thaw overnight in refrigerator before using)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds to sprinkle
- 6 ounces feta
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Make the filling: Blend ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and spreadable, set aside.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Assemble the tart: Roll first sheet puffed pastry flat on a Silpat into a ~10-inch circle; use a 10-inch round plate or bowl to mark the size for a clean cut. Repeat with second dough, setting one aside in the fridge until needed.
- Place first round on a Silpat lined baking sheet. Spread with filling to all but 1-inch from edge. Dab edges with water and place second round on top. Set a small glass upside down in the middle. Being careful not to cut through parchment paper or baking mat, cut away from glass (i.e. not through center) in quarters, or at the 3-, 6-, 9- and 12 o’clock marks. Cut through each quarter again, making 8 strips, and again, making 16 strips, and one last time so that you have 32 “rays” of pastry emanating from the center. If at any point in the cutting the pastry feels annoyingly soft and hard to cut, just pop the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it back up.
- Remove glass from center. Place finger near center of each ray (where it is most likely to break off prematurely) and gently twist each strand a few times.
- Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush it over pastry and sprinkle with seeds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown all over.
- Meanwhile, make whipped feta dip: Blend all filling ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in bowl for dipping, garnish with chopped parsley.
- Remove tart from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter. Tear off rays of sun, dip in whipped feta; repeat as needed.