This is a straight forward but great looking dish that you can make with ready-made puff pastry. Pears and cheese go very well together, in a salad as well as in something like this. This tart is sweet enough to almost be a dessert, but the savoury tanginess of the Greek cheese pulls it back into its place. If you’re doing three courses, then this is an ideal starter as it is small, light and full-flavoured. Plus, the way it looks is guaranteed to impress your dinner guests.
I’ve used a breakfast bowl to cut out the round shape. A 500g block of pastry will give you four servings, but you will have to fold the pastry back on itself us to use it up. A word of caution here: don’t mix the leftover pastry up and roll it out again. You can do this with shortcrust pastry but not puff. Puff pastry is made up of layers that must be kept intact. What you want to do is fold the pastry back onto itself and then roll it out again. This way you are not disturbing the layers and it will still rise.
I have used coconut nectar as the sweetener, but if you can’t get hold of this then brown sugar, or even golden syrup will do fine. The redcurrant jelly is the standard type you can buy in the supermarket. It costs about 80p and is usually with the cranberry sauce.
Prep time: 15-20 minutes. Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes.
2 conference pears
½ tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ tbsp coconut nectar (or brown sugar)
1 x 500g block ready-made puff pastry
3 tbsp redcurrant jelly
200g white Greek style vegan cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
4 tbsp olive oil for brushing
Handful of fresh rocket leaves for garnish
8 chives for garnish
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Preheat the oven to gas 5/190C/375F and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Peel the pears, cut them in half, remove the core and then slice them lengthways (see picture). Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and then fry the pear slices for 6-8 minutes, stirring often, until they start to brown and soften. Add the coconut nectar or sugar and cook for another two minutes, until they start to caramelise. Set aside to cool.
Roll out the pastry (I cut my block in half and did it in two stages) to about 5mm thick. Take a small breakfast bowl, about 15 cm in diameter, and place it on the pastry. Use a sharp knife to cut around the bowl and produce a perfect pastry circle. Put the circle on the lined baking tray and then cut out the other three. Remember to fold your pastry rather than knead it if you have to roll it out again.
Once you have you four circles, use a small knife to score another circle about 1 ½ cm from the edge of your pastry (see picture). This does not have to be perfect, and make sure you don’t cut all the way through the pastry.
Soften the redcurrant jelly slightly in the microwave, then use a teaspoon to spread it onto the centre of your pastry rounds. Don’t go beyond your scored edge. Layer a quarter of the pears on top of the jelly and then put a quarter of the cheese cubes on top of that. Brush the cheese and the edges of the pastry with the olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Repeat this for all four tarts and then cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tarts have risen and browned. Top with a little of the rocket leaves and two chives each. Add a little redcurrant jelly to your plate and then serve immediately.
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