Tarte Soleil with Sundried Tomato Tapenade & Pesto –
Gorgeous, Delicious and Fun to Eat
It’s been at least 6 months since I first saw a picture of a very impressive Tarte Soleil (sun tart). So gorgeous I wanted to make one. After waiting and waiting for the perfect event, I could wait no longer. Last week I offered to bring a Tarte Soleil to dinner with friends that I knew would appreciate it. The tart came out as gorgeous and delicious as I had imagined it would. And, what fun to eat. We took turns breaking off the “rays of the sun” and dipping them in an Herbed Yogurt Sauce.
Tarte Soleil is surprisingly easy to make, in spite of its complex appearance (and the length of the detailed recipe). A purchased box of puff pastry, a 15 minute batch of Sundried Tomato Tapenade and/or a batch of pesto, and a 30-second egg wash make up the ingredients. Forty minutes of rolling, filling, cutting, twisting and resting, along with 30 minutes of baking and you have a most gorgeous and savory appetizer fit perhaps for the Sun King himself.
I adore puff pastry with all its light, crisp, rich and flaky deliciousness. Anything wrapped in or baked on top of or served inside of puff pastry, whether entrée, appetizer of dessert, makes an impressive treat for special occasions.
I still remember the first time I made puff pastry from scratch. At cooking school I had an oven with both a window and an interior light. I watched in awe for almost the whole half hour of baking as the puff pastry rose to many times its height and turned a rich golden brown. So exciting.
Five tips for working with puff pastry
- Roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
- Treat it gently.
- Work quickly.
- Refrigerate it whenever it begins to feel floppy-soft.
- Bake it in a hot 375-400 degree oven.
Buying puff pastry is easier than making it
You can find Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, the most common brand of puff pastry in the U.S., in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Usually it’s the only brand they have. It is convenient, puffs well and is relatively inexpensive. An all-butter and more expensive puff pastry is made by Dufour. Seek and you may find it. In a recent taste test, when baked with a filling or topping of flavorful ingredients, both brands ranked nearly identically in terms of quality, flavor and texture.
Tarte Soleil – Puff Pastry Sun Tart
with Sundried Tomato Tapenade & Pesto
Fill the tart with ¾-1 cup of your favorite thick and boldly flavored filling. The combination of Sundried Tomato Tapenade and pesto makes this Tarte Soleil especially tasty. To serve, use your fingers to break off the “rays of the sun.” Dip them in the optional Herbed Yogurt Sauce and enjoy.
In spite of its complex appearance, Tarte Soleil is actually pretty easy to make. I’ve written detailed directions to guarantee your success.
Inspired by and adapted from a number of Internet cooks, including the Smitten Kitchen.
Makes One 11 ½ inch Tart
Active Time 65 minutes Printer-Friendly Recipe
Total Time 2 hours including baking and resting
Sun Dried Tomato Tapenade
Makes ¾ cup
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon each coarsely chopped oregano and thyme
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or other red pepper flakes
1.1 pound package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator or for 3-4 hours at room temperature
1 egg yolk beaten with a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of water
Herbed Yogurt Sauce (optional)
1 ½ cups plain Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped parsley, chives and/or basil
¼ teaspoon salt
8 twists freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the Tapenade/Pesto Filling
- With the food processor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube. When chopped, stop the processor. Use a spatula to scrape the garlic off the sides. Add all the remaining ingredients. Blend until the tapenade becomes a coarse purée.
- Stir 4 tablespoons of pesto into the tapenade.
- Refrigerate this mixture while you prepare the pastry.
Prepare the Tarte Soleil
- Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet at least 12 x 12 inches in size.
- Keeping one package of puff pastry in the refrigerator, roll out the other package of pastry on one of the pieces of parchment paper to form an 11 ½ inch square.
- Use a pot lid or bowl to cut out the largest possible circle from the pastry. Transfer the pastry and parchment paper to a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with the second package of puff pastry on the second piece of parchment paper. Transfer it to the refrigerator.
- Remove the first pastry circle from the fridge. Spread the filling mixture on the circle, to within ¼ – ½ inch of the outer edge. Use a brush to lightly wet the edge of the pastry. Top with the second circle. Use your fingers to lightly press the pastry together.
- Place a 2 ½ inch diameter glass or jar lid in the center of the pastry. Use a ruler and the tip of a sharp paring knife to score the pastry from the edge of the glass or jar lid to the outer edge of the pastry at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
- Score each quarter in half, making 2 triangles. Score each of the 2 triangles in half to make 4 triangles. Then score the 4 triangles to make 8. You’ll have 32 triangles when you’re done. Place the tart in the freezer for NO MORE than 5 minutes before continuing.
- Use sharp scissors to cut each triangle cleanly along the score lines from the outer edge to the edge of the glass or jar lid.
- Remove the glass or jar lid. Place your index finger of your left hand at the top of a triangle (where the glass or jar lid was). Use your right hand to twist that triangle 3 times. Go around the circle, repeating with each of the remaining 31 triangles.
- Admire your work.
- Refrigerate the Tarte Soleil for at least another 5 minutes.
- Prepare the Herbed Yogurt Dipping Sauce. Whisk together the ingredients, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste. Place it in a bowl for dipping. Refrigerate it covered, until ready to serve the tart.
- When you are ready to bake the tart, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the Egg Wash and brush it over the tart. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Rotate the tart 180 degrees and lower the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake another 10 minutes or until the Tarte Soleil is a rich golden brown all over.
- Remove the tart from the oven. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to a serving platter.
- Serve Tarte Soleil with the optional Herbed Yogurt Dipping Sauce.