Last week I used shop bought puff pastry for the first time… Ever! Can you believe that? I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to use. I used to think that buying pre-made pastry was blasphemy but I’ve since realised that puff pastry is incredibly hard to make yourself and I am silly for ever thinking I could master it! So I’ve now embraced the shop bought stuff. I mean if it’s good enough for Jamie, it’s good enough for me. Although this was my first time using it, I’m already hooked and am thinking up both savoury and sweet puff pastry ideas. Anything to see that rise and to taste that light, buttery goodness.
Now enough about the pastry, let’s talk about the filling – something that deserves plenty of coverage in its own right. I can’t pretend I made this incredible concoction of flavours up myself. Nope, I instead followed a Jamie Oliver recipe and I can safely say he NAILED IT on this one! These beautiful looking tarts include… Drum roll please! Pesto, courgette, tomato, pepper, asparagus, mozzarella, olives and basil. Full of fantastic colour and amazing flavour.
It also means that I had to buy a basil plant, which just so happened to be bloody huge and bloody beautiful, filling our kitchen with its sweet herby scent! Who needs a diffuser, just buy a basil plant. Seriously.
Ingredients (makes 4)
1x 500g block of ready-made puff pastry
1 large handful of cherry tomatoes
½ bunch of asparagus
1x 100g mozzarella ball
8 black olives
4 tsp pesto
½ bunch fresh basil
1. Begin by removing the pastry from the fridge and bring to room temperature.
2. Turn the grill on to 200 degrees, slice the pepper into four quarters, add to a baking tray and grill for 5-8 minutes until lightly toasted.
3. At the same time crush the cherry tomatoes into a large bowl. Use a peeler to create strips of courgette and add these to the tomatoes.
4. Snap the asparagus into 3cm pieces, discarding the end but keeping the tip. Add these to the bowl.
5. Remove the peppers from the grill and leave to cool. Turn the grill off but put the oven on to 180 degrees.
6. Meanwhile cut the block of pastry in half and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers for another time. Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with plain flour. Roll the puff pastry out into a roughly 26 x 26cm square. Cut into 4 squares and pop onto a baking tray or two.
7. Add a teaspoon of pesto to each square and gently coat the pastry using the back of the spoon, making sure to not go right to the edge.
8. Tear the pepper into strips and add to the tomato mixture. Also tear in the basil leaves, leaving some for garnish on top afterwards. Mix everything together and pile some of the mixture on to the pastry squares.
9. Add 2 olives and a generous piece of mozzarella on top.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with fresh basil on top. We served ours with a side salad and some orzo. But you could use couscous or quinoa, or if having for lunch simply stick to a side salad.