These tiny tartlets are a big hit

Entertaining

Made with cheese, tomato and green onion, they're quite easy to prepare

Entertaining

April 28, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

A group from the Amherst College Gourmet Club assembled in my kitchen on a weekend afternoon, and after a discussion of the recipes we cooked together for a couple of hours. Afterward, we enjoyed the results of our chopping, slicing and dicing.

For this year's menu, I chose simple dishes. For openers there were Blue Cheese, Tomato and Green Onion Tartlets offered with bowls of green and black olives. Grilled salmon fillets accompanied by a piquant cold mustard sauce were served with grilled asparagus spears and a gratin of potatoes. Dark chocolate pound cake garnished with scoops of purchased coffee ice cream and drizzled with warm homemade chocolate sauce ended our feast.

The tartlets, with their colorful filling of blue-veined ivory cheese, crimson tomatoes and golden nuts mounded in flaky pastry cups, are irresistible. I know this firsthand; I pulled these tartlets out of the oven, arranged them on a tray, and five minutes later when I decided I would have one, there was none in sight. Ten members of the Amherst College Gourmet Club had consumed them in record time.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Blue Cheese, Tomato and Green Onion Tartlets

Makes 30 tartlets or enough to serve 10 to 12

1/2 cup (about 20 small) grape tomatoes, stemmed, rinsed and dried (see Note)

one 3 1/2 - to 4-ounce piece of creamy blue cheese, such as Saga Blue, broken into dime-size pieces

1/3 cup chopped green onions (3 to 4 green onions with roots and all but 2 inches of green stems cut off)

1 / 4 cup pine nuts, toasted (see Note)

30 frozen mini phyllo dough shells (see Note)

2 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives

To prepare filling, quarter tomatoes lengthwise, but do not remove seeds or pulp. Place in nonreactive mixing bowl along with cheese. (If using blue cheese with rind such as Saga Blue, do not cut off the rind.) Add chopped green onions and pine nuts to bowl, and toss gently to mix well. (Filling can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking tartlets.)

When ready to bake, remove phyllo shells from freezer and arrange them on a large, heavy baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Let stand for 10 minutes to defrost. Spoon filling into shells, dividing mixture evenly and mounding it generously in each shell. Bake tartlets on center rack at 350 degrees until cheese has melted and filling is hot, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle tops with chopped chives. Arrange tartlets on serving platter. Serve hot.

Note: Delicious little grape tomatoes, which are smaller and sweeter than cherry tomatoes, are best used in this recipe. They are available in most markets in the produce section.

To toast pine nuts, heat medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until golden-brown, 5 minutes or longer. Remove and cool.

Athens brand mini phyllo dough shells are available in most markets and can be found in the frozen foods section. Fully baked, they need only 10 minutes to defrost and then can be filled and baked to heat the filling.

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