I know many people are still not ready to go back to baking sweets yet after the gluttony of the holidays so today I wanted to share two recipes that involve more than butter, sugar and chocolate! These are both dishes that I made along with the breaded and stuffed chicken breasts for our Christmas day dinner.
The roasted tomato and goat cheese tart was a bit of a last minute addition to the menu but one I’m glad I made. I’ve never had goat cheese and there’s quite a bit of goat cheese in this recipe so I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I also wasn’t entirely sure how the rest of the group felt about goat cheese so it was risky, but in the end, the tart was a hit! Puff pastry is baked, then topped with goat cheese and a combination of roasted tomatoes, shallots, and garlic and baked one final time. The buttery puff pastry is a great combination with the tangy goat cheese and sweet roasted tomatoes. It’s a simple, yet elegant, dish that could easily work as an appetizer too (maybe for a New Year’s Eve or Day gathering?). It can also be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 1 day before its final bake.
Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe by editors of Cook’s Illustrated
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed and cut into two 9 by 4 1/2-inch rectangles
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 medium shallot, halved and sliced thin
3 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lay the puff pastry rectangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the pastry with the egg and poke holes all over with a fork. Bake the shells for 10 minutes at 425 F then decrease the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to bake until the shells are golden brown and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool the shells completely.
Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, vinegar, shallot, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a baking dish. Roast the tomatoes, without stirring, until the skins are slightly shriveled but the tomatoes retain their shape, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Mix the goat cheese with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until smooth then season with salt and pepper to taste. Use a paring knife to cut a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cooled pastry shells and then press the centers of the shells down gently so they rest about 1/4-inch lower than the edges. Spread the goat cheese mixture evenly over the shells. Top with the roasted tomato mixture.
The assembled tarts can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 F. Brush the edges of the tart with the egg and then bake until the shells are a deep golden brown and the topping is hot, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkles with basil and slice to serve.
Speaking of simple, it doesn’t get much easier than this green bean dish. The beans are blanched ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days along with a mustard vinaigrette that is made by tossing a few ingredients in a jar and shaking. On the day you want to serve the dish, you just pop the green beans in the microwave to reheat them and toss with the pre-made vinaigrette before serving. The vinaigrette makes the green beans just a little more special; they were a great addition to our holiday meal!
Green Beans with Bistro Mustard Vinaigrette
from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated
3 lbs green beans, ends trimmed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons red or sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 medium shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large pot, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Add the green beans and 2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water & cook for 2-4 minutes. You want the beans to retain a little crunch in the center.
Drain the green beans and transfer immediately to the ice bath. Leave the beans in the ice water for about 5 minutes to cool completely, then drain and pat dry. Wrap the beans loosely in paper towels and store in the refrigerator in a resealable bag for up to 2 days.
To Make the Vinaigrette: Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar and refrigerate for up to 2 days. About one hour before serving the green beans, remove the vinaigrette from the refrigerator.
To Reheat the Beans: Place them in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until hot and steaming, about 6-8 minutes. Drain away any water that accumulated in the bowl. Shake the vinaigrette once more then pour over the green beans and toss to coat. The beans can be served hot or at room temperature.