Cooking a wholesome dinner should not feel like a burden and does not necessarily require many ingredients, hours spent in the kitchen or a ruined budget. Sometimes with as few as five ingredients, plus salt and pepper, dinner can be easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy for the whole family. The trick? Good, quality ingredients.
Take this tart, for instance. It has only puff pastry, arugula leaves (very good arugula leaves, I should say, from a local farm in Dexter), fresh goat cheese, some pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper. You garnish your puff pastry, bake it for 30 minutes and what you have is a delicious, crunchy yet tender tart. The arugula makes it fresh tasting and peppery, while the goat cheese adds a lovely, creamy, almost soothing touch. As for the pesto, if not homemade, look for one that is in the refrigerated section and contains basil and olive oil, and not other herbs and oils.
Although there are many puff pastry brands out there, I have to say that when I taste-tested Trader Joe's Artisan Puff Pastry (found in the frozen pastries section) I was charmed. The pastry is made with butter and nothing but butter, which makes it more authentic and will ensure the pastry will rise as expected in a 400-degree oven.
Each bag contains two sheets of pastry ready to be baked. You will use only one sheet for this recipe, unless you want more; then feel free to garnish the second one, too. Just remember when working with puff pastry to always keep it ice cold, if not frozen, until all of the other ingredients are ready. It is the ice-cold butter, when it hits the correct temperature, that will make the puff pastry rise.
But don't stop at just arugula and goat cheese. The beauty of this basic recipe is that it can be tweaked in numerous ways. Substitute feta cheese, blue cheese or any of your favorite cheeses for goat cheese. Use zucchini, mushrooms, red onions, cherry tomatoes or well-drained slices of tomatoes. Play with it and make it your own so that dinner won't feel like a burden.
Arugula and goat cheese tart
- 1-lb. package of frozen puff pastry
- 2 c. loosely packed fresh arugula leaves
- 2 tsp. pesto
- 3 oz. fresh goat cheese, sliced into ¼ inch rounds or crumbled.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, black pepper
Keep the puff pastry frozen until the last minute. Meanwhile, rinse and spin-dry the arugula very well.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the pesto all over the puff pastry. Cover with a layer of arugula leaves, season lightly with salt and pepper and top with the rounds of goat cheese. Drizzle with some olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.
Bake the tart until the crust is golden brown and the goat cheese has slightly melted, about 30 minutes. Bring out of the oven, drizzle with some extra olive oil and serve.
Local shopping spots
- Puff pastry: It's not a sale item, but the in Farmington Hills sells Artisan Puff Pastry at $3.99 for a 1-pound bag.
- Arugula: in Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield has a sale on 5-oz. packages of Earthbound Farms brand arugula ($2.99 each). in Birmingham also has a sale on 5-oz. packages of Earthbound Farms arugula and mixed salads (2 for $5).
- Olive oil: Papa Joe's has a sale on ½-liter bottles of Terra Creta brand extra virgin olive oil (buy one, get one free). Busch's has a sale on 16.9 oz. Delallo brand extra virgin olive oil ($4.99 each). in West Bloomfield has a sale on 16.9 oz. Berio brand olive oil ($4.79 each)
- Tomatoes: has a sale on Roma tomatoes (99 cents per pound). Papa Joe's has a sale on Michigan Roma tomatoes (79 cents per pound).
- Cheese: in Birmingham has a sale on Boar's Head brand domestic Swiss ($4.99 per pound).