Frozen puff pastry dough is a staple in my freezer. Until recently, I used Pepperidge Farm, but now I prefer the Dufour brand that you can buy at Whole Foods. It is made with butter and contains none of the dreaded partially hydrogenated items that I’m trying to eliminate from my family’s diet. The trade-offs for this healthier option is that the Dufour is much more expensive—and it is also a bit harder to work with—the Pepperidge Farm version is a snap, the Dufour can get sticky and a little hard to work with when thawed.
Whichever brand you choose, if you thaw a sheet of puff pastry and roll it out to fit a 16 x 10-inch sheet pan, you are rewarded with a great blank pastry canvas that you can top with your favorite combination of tastes. I have at various times used combinations of spinach, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, sautéed bacon or pancetta, sliced olives, artichokes, goat cheese, mascarpone, Fontina and Parmesan cheeses. Often you can make one of these when you don’t feel like going to the store—just raid the refrigerator and freezer and be creative! Cut into small pieces, it’s an appetizer, larger and you have the centerpiece of lunch or a light dinner.
Here is a recipe for a version that my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed for lunch this week.
Leek, Spinach and Goat Cheese Tart
Flour for rolling out puff pastry
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
4 leeks, halved, rinsed well, dried and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 package (10 ounces) fresh baby spinach, washed and rinsed
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Place the pastry on a baking sheet and turn the edges up slightly. Using a fork, prick the dough inside the border every ½ inch. Bake until golden for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through.
In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the leeks and sauté until they are soft and translucent and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and continue to cook until the spinach is cooked and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In another small skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the shallots. Sauté until they are browned and crisp. Drain them on paper towels.
Top the pastry with the leek and spinach mixture. Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Bake until the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the shallots on top. Cut into squares and serve.