I come from an appetizer-loving family, so I’m always excited to try new recipes for small bites. And since it’s summertime, there is an abundance of great, in-season produce to put to work in appetizer form! This year – for the first time ever – I’m growing tomatoes and peppers in pots on my deck, so I’ve been stockpiling creative recipes for putting those veggies to work when my first “crop” comes in.
A fun new appetizer I just tried is Tomato Tartlets. The tartlet is a savory bite, topped with fresh, seasoned arugula – a leafy salad green I had never prepared before but really enjoyed. The contrast of the warm cheesiness and the cool, crisp arugula makes for a delicious dichotomy. And while the finished appetizer looks like something that would be served at a high-end restaurant, the secret to this recipe is that the tartlet crusts are made with refrigerated pie crusts! That means more time soaking up the sun and less time fretting in the kitchen.
To get the tartlet crusts started, preheat the oven to 400°F. I used refrigerated pie crust that came in two pre-rolled packages, but it wasn’t quite thin enough (1/8 inch is the goal), so I used a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the crust a little more thinly. You need to cut a total of twelve 4 1/2-inch circles.
When your circles are all cut, press them into the cups of an ungreased muffin pan. Bake the pan of tartlet shells for five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Beat at medium-speed until smooth.
Add the shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped Deli American - and fresh chopped basil. (Mine came straight from my mom’s herb garden! Gotta love summertime.) Beat again until well mixed.
By now you should be removing your partially-baked tartlet shells from the oven. Get ready to put them to work.
Spread one tablespoon of filling into each hot shell. This is where I made a mistake – you should plan to have a little filling reserved for the top. I didn’t do that. So I had to make a minor adjustment.
Top the filled tartlet cups with strips of tomato.
If you reserved enough, spread one teaspoon of the cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. I made it work by sprinkling a little extra Parmesan on top of the tomato slices. Place the pan back into the still-hot oven to bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
When the crusts begin to get golden brown and the filling is bubbly, remove the pan from the oven.
In a medium bowl, toss together the rinsed arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Top each tartlet with a little seasoned arugula and you’re ready to serve the Tomato Tartlets. I served mine at an outdoor luncheon by the lake, but they are just as tasty for a date night on the deck after the kids have gone to bed!
Make your own Tomato Tartlets this summer, then rate and review the recipe.