Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato, and Pesto Tarts


(Serves 6 as an appetizer or lunch; may be doubled)

Sure, you can substitute great fresh cow’s milk mozzarella for the buffalo mozzarella called for here. But if you can get the authentic stuff, treat yourself. Puff pastry is the lazy cook’s secret ingredient; if your local bakery is willing to sell you a hunk of raw puff pastry made with real butter, the flavors of this crisp and colorful summer snack will take off for the moon and never look back.

Mise-en-Place: Thaw the puff pastry for at least 2 and up to 4 hours at room temperature. For this recipe, you will not be rolling the pastry out any further, so all you have to do is remove it from the package and unfold. If you buy pastry from a bakery—or, quel horreur, make it yourself—roll the dough out to just less than ¼-inch thick.

8 ounces large, ripe plum tomatoes
About 1 pound frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets of pastry)
6 ounces impeccably fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced about ¼-inch thick
½ cup best-quality store-bought pesto (in the chilled section of the market–not in a glass jar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sprigs of fresh basil, for garnish (optional)
Best-quality lemon olive oil, for drizzling

In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, immerse the tomatoes for 15 seconds. Pull off the skin and cut 12 thick slices; or, cut 6 slices and halve them crosswise.

Cut three 5-inch rounds from each of the two pastry sheets, using a small plate or lid as a guide (you will need to cheat the edges slightly in a few places to get 3 rounds from each sheet; or if it’s really a tight fit, use a rolling pin to roll out each sheet so it’s an inch or so larger). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place two slices of tomato and two slices of mozzarella in the center of each dough disk, overlapping slightly.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you assemble an interesting Italian cocktail (perhaps a Negroni?), and preheat the oven to 400F, convection if possible.

Brush the exposed edges with beaten egg and place a few dollops of pesto on each. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry edges are golden brown. Serve at once.

For Adventure Club Members: Make your own pesto from basil or arugola.