Comté & pear tartlets

February’s pickings from the vegetable patch can be sparse, but if you’re lucky you’ll have apples and pears from autumn’s harvest to use up.

There might also be some winter salad leaves such as mizuna, lamb’s lettuce or baby spinach. Tossed in a punchy mustardy dressing, they’re the ideal counterpoint to this crisp and indulgently cheesy bake.

The stars of the show here are sweet, ripe pears. These are partnered with rich, nutty Comté cheese, which is often used in fondues. Together they’re a match made in heaven. A few toasted hazelnuts, a drizzle of honey and a scattering of fresh rosemary and chilli flakes bring the flavours together beautifully. A puff pastry base works with all kinds of cheese and fruit/nut combinations, too. Blue cheese, walnuts and apples, a soft goat’s cheese and figs in late summer, or mozzarella, thyme and fresh cobnuts in early autumn. The best recipes allow variations to match the season and your larder.

If you’ve been holding back over January and need a little luxury in your life, this tasty pastry treat is just the ticket. It makes a sophisticated lunch with friends, with that dressed salad (either from your garden or from the supermarket – we won’t tell) or a satisfying TV dinner, eaten with your fingers, hot from the oven.

Comté & pear tartlets

Comté & pear tartlets

Serves 6
Takes 35 mins

  • 20g hazelnuts
  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry, chilled
  • 120g Comté cheese, grated
  • 2 ripe but firm pears, cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • A few rosemary needles, finely chopped
  • A pinch or two of chilli flakes
  • Beaten egg, for brushing
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 7, 220°C/fan 200°C. As it’s heating up, pop in the hazelnuts to toast for 5-10 mins, then remove from the oven and roughly chop.
  2. Unroll the pastry and cut into 6 rectangles. Transfer to a lined baking tray and score a 1cm border around the edge of each one (don’t cut all the way through the pastry). Use a fork to prick the centres.
  3. Pile most of the grated cheese into the centres of the puff pastry rectangles, then arrange the pear slices on top. Warm the honey briefly in the microwave, then brush a little over the pear slices. Scatter over the remaining cheese, then the chopped rosemary and chilli flakes.
  4. Brush the borders with beaten egg, then bake for 15 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden, and the cheese is oozing.
  5. Leave to cool for a couple of mins, then drizzle over the remaining honey and scatter over the chopped toasted hazelnuts. Eat while hot.

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.

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