If there’s anything I’ve learned as a member of the Barefoot Bloggers, it’s the value of having a package of frozen puff pastry in the freezer. If you’ve got a box of Pepperidge Farm on ice, then AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, you can turn an ordinary visit into something special with the Barefoot Contessa’s Easy Sticky Buns, Apple Turnovers or these Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts.

Puff pastry is the party pastry.

There’s nothing complicated about making these tarts. Once your sheets of puff pastry have defrosted, you cut circles from the sheets using a saucer, biscuit cutters, a glass, whatever’s handy. Then refrigerate them, and work on your onion mixture. When the onions are lightly browned, you’re ready to score a border inside the pastry circles and prick the pastry inside the score lines with a fork. Once that’s done, you can start piling on the toppings: freshly grated Parmesan; onions sautéed with garlic, white wine and thyme; garlic-and-herb goat cheese; a slice of tomato; julienned basil and a little shaved Parmesan.

We used biscuit cutters to make mini tarts, and each one packed a lot of flavor. They would make excellent appetizers–totally beating down a tray of prefab spanakopita–and you could easily change the toppings to offer more variety.

Oh, Ina.

I think I love you.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics”

Makes 4 individual tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface, and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square.
  3. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  5. Take your pastry circles out of the refrigerator. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork, and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  6. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle inside the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.