But, still. When faced with Sunday dinner for the MIL, I was in need of a quick appetizer that required minimal effort. This recipe always reminds me of those articles that talk about needing appetizers for "unexpected guests." Who in the hell might those be? If you show up at my house expecting an appetizer, you had better have called in advance. But still, I cannot argue with an appetizer that can be thrown together using ingredients on hand.
These tarts use one of my favorite cheater ingredients,
phyllo dough shells. Not that making these shells using prepared phyllo dough (seriously fun stuff), butter, and a small cupcake pan requires much effort or skill, but when your sinuses feel like mine or you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner and have nine million other things to do, it's good to have a fall-back recipe like this.
There are certain items I almost always have in my freezer: these shells and this brand of prosciutto from Trader Joe's. The latter is certainly not the best of its kind, but it is serviceable in a pinch (there are a lot of pinches in our household).
Aside from goat cheese, almost all the other ingredients in these tarts can vary according to what you have on hand.
This version included chopped fresh mint. I've also used basil and tarragon. It also included lemon zest, although I've used orange zest if that's what I have.
Mixed together, spooned into the shells, topped with a few pinenuts ( or chopped toasted walnuts or almonds or no nuts), and toasted in the oven for just a few minutes (just enough to melt the cheese, since the shells are prebaked), and you've got an appetizer to impress and hold people over until the turkey (or in my case the roast chicken) comes out of the oven.
If you need the appetizer before the bird is done, take out the bird, tell people you are basting it, and slip in the tarts. They'll think it's all part of your master plan.
GOAT CHEESE TARTS
1 package phyllo tart shells
4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
zest of one lemon, chopped
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (mint, basil, tarragon, or thyme)
two slice prosciutto, diced
half and half to thin
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cheese, lemon zest and juice, herbs, and prosciutto. Mash with fork, adding half and half to thin to consistency to combine until smooth. Add pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into shells and top with pine nuts. Place shells on baking sheet and heat in oven until mixture has melted.