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Tender Tomato Hearts (A Valentine's Day Appetizer) Recipe

tomato pastry hearts on table
tomato pastry hearts on table - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

With the most romantic holiday just around the corner, you may be looking for a few special Valentine's Day recipes for a gathering or a cozy dinner for two. These romantic tomato heart tartlets created by recipe developer Michelle Bottalico are a perfect Valentine's Day appetizer. Puff pastry hors d'oeuvres, whether shaped into pinwheels, puffs, square tartlets, or rolls always seem elegant. They can be filled with a variety of delicious ingredients and aren't as complicated as they appear if you use pre-made pastry.

Bottalico tailors the tarts to the occasion by cutting the pastry into heart shapes and filling them with a rosy topping. These pretty tarts feature sun-dried tomato pesto and sliced grape tomatoes, both of which contribute a vibrant red color, while Asiago cheese, garlic, and fresh basil all combine for a well-balanced medley of flavors. With tender tomatoes, crispy puff pastry, and melted cheese, these tarts are as delicious as they are attractive.

It does require a few steps to form these heart-shaped tarts but none of the steps is particularly difficult. The entire process is a labor of love that makes these tarts so perfect for a special occasion. Whether you'll be serving these with V-Day cocktails at a party or as a starter for a romantic meal, know that you can do most of the preparation ahead of time, leaving you free to enjoy your company.

Read more: 30 Popular Frozen Pizzas, Ranked Worst To Best

Gather Your Tender Tomato Heart Ingredients

tomato pastry ingredients on table
tomato pastry ingredients on table - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

For this recipe, you will need sun-dried tomato pesto and grape tomatoes, which give these hearts their red color. The other filling ingredients you will need are salt, black pepper, Asiago cheese, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and a few basil leaves. Finally, the recipe calls for a frozen puff pastry crust. Make sure to thaw it before you start preparing the recipe. You can thaw it by moving it to the refrigerator for 6-8 hours or letting it sit out on the counter for about half an hour.

Step 1: Preheat The Oven

oven display showing preheat symbol
oven display showing preheat symbol - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Salt The Tomatoes

sliced grape tomatoes in bowl
sliced grape tomatoes in bowl - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Place the tomatoes in a small bowl with ¼ teaspoon salt and mix well. Set the bowl aside to allow the salt to draw extra moisture out of the tomatoes while you prepare the dough.

Step 3: Unroll The Pastry

unrolled puff pastry sheet
unrolled puff pastry sheet - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Unroll the puff pastry sheet and place it on a work surface.

Step 4: Prepare To Cut Out The Hearts

heart cookie cutter on pastry
heart cookie cutter on pastry - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Hold a large heart-shaped cookie cutter up to the sheets to determine how many hearts you can fit, alternating the direction of the cutter to save space. If necessary, roll the dough slightly larger with a rolling pin.

Step 5: Cut Out The Heart Shapes

cutting heart shaped pastry pieces
cutting heart shaped pastry pieces - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Cut out as many hearts as you can and place the pieces on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Step 6: Use Up The Leftover Pastry

many heart shaped dough pieces
many heart shaped dough pieces - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Combine the leftover dough pieces, roll them flat, and cut out however many additional hearts you can. Place them on the baking sheet as well.

Step 7: Roll Up The Borders

many heart shaped dough pieces
many heart shaped dough pieces - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Roll up the edges of the hearts to create a raised border about ¼ inch wide.

Step 8: Slightly Flatten The Hearts

pastry hearts on baking pan
pastry hearts on baking pan - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Press the surface of the hearts inside the border with your fingertip to flatten slightly.

Step 9: Prick The Dough

small pastry hearts in pan
small pastry hearts in pan - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Prick the dough with a fork.

Step 10: Spread The Pesto

small pastry hearts in pan
small pastry hearts in pan - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Spread the pesto evenly inside the borders of the hearts.

Step 11: Add The Cheese

12 pastry hearts on table
12 pastry hearts on table - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Sprinkle the shredded Asiago cheese on top of the pesto.

Step 12: Drain The Tomatoes

sliced tomatoes in colander
sliced tomatoes in colander - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Drain the tomato mixture.

Step 13: Combine The Tomatoes And Basil

tomato salad in small bowl
tomato salad in small bowl - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Wipe the bowl dry, put the tomatoes back in the bowl, add the garlic, olive oil, shredded basil, a pinch of salt, and black pepper, and mix well.

Step 14: Distribute The Tomato Mixture

tomato pastry hearts in pan
tomato pastry hearts in pan - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Distribute the tomato mixture evenly on top of the cheese.

Step 15: Bake The Hearts

baked tomato pastry hearts
baked tomato pastry hearts - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-23 minutes till the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Step 16: Serve The Tender Tomato Heart Appetizer

tomato heart pastries on board
tomato heart pastries on board - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Let the pastry cool for about 5 minutes before serving. You may also serve it at room temperature if desired.

I Don't Have A Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter. Can I Still Make This Valentine's Day Tomato Heart Appetizer?

tomato heart pastries on table
tomato heart pastries on table - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

You don't have to miss out on these special pastries if you don't have a heart-shaped cookie cutter. You can easily make a heart stencil out of clean cardboard or cardstock. Cut the cardboard into a square that's the same height you want your tarts to be. Draw half a heart shape on it with the center of the heart on the folded edge of the cardboard. Make sure the rounded part of the heart touches the outer edges and the bottom point of the heart touches the center fold on the lower edge of the cardboard. Cut out the heart and unfold it, and you'll have a heart that's perfectly symmetrical on both sides. To use the stencil, place it on the pastry sheet and carefully cut around it with a paring knife.

If you don't have the heart-shaped cutter or simply want to save time, you can also cut the pastry sheet into squares or diamonds and proceed with the recipe. They won't be quite as special or romantic, but they will still have the red and gold color scheme, and they will still taste delicious.

Can I Make This Valentine's Day Tomato Heart Appetizer Pastry Ahead?

small heart pastries on board
small heart pastries on board - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Whether you're serving this as part of an appetizer spread for a gathering or as the first course for a special meal, if you're concerned about having enough time to make this recipe on Valentine's Day itself the good news is that you can prep it ahead. Keep in mind that frozen puff pastry can take 6-8 hours to thaw in the refrigerator, so be sure to add that to your pre-prep time. If you're planning to prep the recipe the evening of February 13, you can pop the pastry in the refrigerator in the morning and it will be ready in plenty of time. Or you can set it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator the night before.

Besides thawing the pastry, several other steps of the process can be prepared the day before. Mix the tomatoes with salt and let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator to pull out moisture. Grate the Asiago cheese and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator too. You can also unroll the puff pastry sheets, cut out the hearts, roll up the edges, and place them on a baking sheet. Cover the sheet with plastic wrap and let that sit in the refrigerator with the other prepped ingredients. Then all you have to do on Valentine's Day is prick the dough, assemble the toppings, and bake your cute tomato hearts.

Tender Tomato Hearts (A Valentine's Day Appetizer) Recipe

mini heart pastries on table
mini heart pastries on table - Michelle Bottalico/Tasting Table

Prep Time: 55mCook Time: 20mYield: 6 ServingsIngredients

  • 1 ¾ cups sliced grape tomatoes

  • ¼ teaspoon + 1 pinch salt, divided

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sun dried tomato pesto

  • ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 3-4 basil leaves, shredded into small pieces

  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  2. Place the tomatoes in a small bowl with ¼ teaspoon salt and mix well. Set the bowl aside to allow the salt to draw extra moisture out of the tomatoes while you prepare the dough.

  3. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and place it on a work surface.

  4. Hold a large heart-shaped cookie cutter up to the sheets to determine how many hearts you can fit, alternating the direction of the cutter to save space. If necessary, roll the dough slightly larger with a rolling pin.

  5. Cut out as many hearts as you can and place the pieces on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

  6. Combine the leftover dough pieces, roll them flat, and cut out however many additional hearts you can. Place them on the baking sheet as well.

  7. Roll up the edges of the hearts to create a raised border about ¼ inch wide.

  8. Press the surface of the hearts inside the border with your fingertip to flatten slightly.

  9. Prick the dough with a fork.

  10. Spread the pesto evenly inside the borders of the hearts.

  11. Sprinkle the shredded Asiago cheese on top of the pesto.

  12. Drain the tomato mixture.

  13. Wipe the bowl dry, put the tomatoes back in the bowl, add the garlic, olive oil, shredded basil, a pinch of salt, and black pepper, and mix well.

  14. Distribute the tomato mixture evenly on top of the cheese.

  15. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-23 minutes till the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

  16. Let the pastry cool for about 5 minutes before serving. You may also serve it at room temperature if desired.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.