This is the time of year when I start obsessing over red and green foods. After all, you can’t serve yellow and brown for Christmas! (Okay, fine, you actually can – and I usually do – but if the food coordinates with the holiday, well, it pleases me).
I sound like a total freak, don’t I?
Well, with these Tomato Pesto Tarts, I can let my freak flag fly proudly, because they’re unabashedly red and green – oh so perfect for the holiday.
They’re also perfect because they’re so super fast to assemble – even easier if you decide to go the store-bought pesto route – and we’re all short on time during the holidays.
They’re versatile, too. You can serve them up as a hearty party appetizer – they kind of eat like a sandwich, so they work as (slightly messy) finger food – or as a nice little side along with the rest of your Christmas meal.
Puff pastry squares topped with a layer of pesto, a tomato slice, and a little Parmesan, baked until bubbly and golden brown, then sprinkled with a few slivers of basil. They’re individual-serving-sized, so if the meat-eaters prefer a little prosciutto, who are we to deny them? Just lay a little slice onto a couple of the tarts as soon as you pull these bad boys out of the oven – it’ll warm and meld with the other flavors perfectly.
Red and green delicious fun for everyone.
Tomato Pesto Tarts with Optional Prosciutto
For the pesto:
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1 medium garlic clove (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste if desired
- One-third cup olive oil + more if needed
- 1 teaspoon honey
For the tarts:
- 1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry (thawed at room temperature for about 30 minutes)
- 1/2 cup of your favorite pesto (I used a homemade basil and sunflower seed pesto; recipe below)
- 2 medium tomatoes (sliced) (about 1 pound) (the more flavorful the better!)
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 5 - 6 fresh basil leaves (rolled and sliced into strands) (chiffonade)
If adding optional prosciutto:
- 2 - 3 slices prosciutto (each tart takes about one-third to a half of a slice)
To make the pesto:
- To the bowl of a food processor, add the basil leaves, sunflower seeds, garlic, Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and one-third cup olive oil.
- Pulse until the mixture comes together in a rough paste. Add honey and pulse again until incorporated. Stream in additional olive oil if necessary to make a slightly loose, spreadable pesto.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired.
- Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 days. It'll still taste great, but it will lose its vibrant green color. Or add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to help it stay green.
To make the tarts:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- On a large floured cutting board or mat, unfold the puff pastry. If it breaks along the fold lines, no worries! You want to cut it into thirds along the folds anyway, then cut again into thirds the opposite way to create nine squares. Think tic-tac-toe board.
- Divide the pesto between each square, about 2 teaspoons per square, spreading carefully with a spoon to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Lay one tomato slice in the center of each. Sprinkle Parmesan over the tarts.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.
- Remove from oven and, if using the prosciutto, lay about 1/3 to 1/2 of a slice over the top of each tart.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.