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Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets

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If April showers bring May flowers, then holy cow we are going to be living in a florist’s dream. For several days now rain has been pouring down, setting off the plants’ sprouting clocks, drumming against our windows to a beat we’ve been looking forward to all winter, and creating monstrously frizzy hair for us females. But it’s worth giving up a good hair day to watch the lightning show and thunder, counting the seconds between the two as the storm grows closer… then drifts away. Pouring rain turns groggy drizzle, leaving the grass so richly green, it seems to come straight out of a children’s storybook.

It’s so stunningly beautiful, the grass being so vivid and a perfect shade,it should be labeled: “This is Green. This is what Green looks like.” Perhaps it’s the fact for five straight months we looked at nothing but blindingly white snow that makes me so giddy for the green, making me want to whip out my shorts- but instead refrain and watch all the other high schoolers do so and freeze in the process. No, no shorts. I whip out my mixer. I find something light, a snack, something airy and tasty. Something that looks healthy, but probably isn’t after you gobble down your third. I find something green.

I decided to make these for Easter, because one, they were portable. Two, if no one liked them it would be okay, because it wouldn’t be as if a whole meal was being thrown away, and three, they just looked as if they were made for being eaten during Spring. Thankfully, they survived the car trip to my Grandmother’s and everyone loved them, an added bonus and a boost to my day.

We were giving a day without rain- it was sunny, warm enough to wear a dress, wander around the neighborhood acting silly with your 11-year-old cousins. We played lacrosse, baseball, then a little blend of both in the backyard. And ate. And ate.

These tartlets were super easy to make. I was able to find all the ingredients at my nearby Krogers, which was great because usually I have to jump back and forth to Whole Foods as well. The phyllo dough needs to thaw out really well, or it will just rip like tissue paper while unrolling it. I had to learn that the hard way, watching it crumble to pieces before my very eyes. Other than that however, everything is just adding something into a bowl, the only real work is separating the eggs, and even that isn’t too difficult. They end up turning out to be tasty, and green. A very pretty, spring green.

Adapted from Susan Stockton of Food Network Magazine.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets
Makes approx: 20 tartlets

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 1/2 ounces mild goat cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a clean surface (cover the other sheets with a damp towel), brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon parmesan. Cover with another phyllo sheet, brush with more butter and sprinkle with another teaspoon parmesan. Top with the remaining phyllo sheet and brush with butter. Cut the phyllo stack into 24 squares, about 3 inches each. Brush a 24-cup mini muffin tin with oil, then firmly press a phyllo square, buttered-side down, into each cup. Bake until golden, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until translucent. Stir in the flour, then add the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth, 1 minute. Add the nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the goat cheese, lemon zest and vinegar until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks, then the spinach.

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the spinach filling. Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into each phyllo cup and top with the remaining parmesan. Bake until the filling is set, 15 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan; remove and plate

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