White Grape, Manchego and Fennel Seed Tartlets

16 Jul

Grapes are just coming into season here now. Where we walk with the dog there are vines, heavy with juicy bunches growing along the fences at the side of the paths. Every day they ripen a little more with the intense heat of the sun.

I’ve never cooked with grapes before. At the restaurant we had an Andalucian salad with Manchego cheese, grapes, Serrano ham and a Jerez (sherry) vinegar dressing that sold very well in the summer.

This got me thinking about the grape and Manchego combination. The Washer Up used to make a Manchego & Red Onion Tartlet that was delicious. He cut the puff pastry into triangles a little bigger than the triangle of cheese and made a red onion marmalade to go on the top. It was a very popular starter.

My version just swaps the red onion marmalade for a grape compote. I used elderflower cordial in the compote because it is the very essence of summer but you can use grape juice if you can’t get any. I bought mine in Ikea.

The fennel seeds idea came from a recipe for Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia in the Ottolenghi Cookbook. I am slightly Ottolenghi obsessed at the moment. The fennel seeds add an interesting flavour and texture, and the Spanish do love their anis so it finished off the dish nicely.

If you strain the compote before it cools you will also have a grape and elderflower syrup to drizzle over the finished dish, but it’s not essential.

Remember to put the frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost the night before you need it.

White Grape, Manchego & Fennel Seed Tartlets Recipe

makes about 6 or 7 tartlets, vegetarian

For the Grape, Elderflower & Fennel Seed Compote

  • about 400 gr seedless white grapes, stemmed & halved
  • 50 gr caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar & pestle

Stir the grapes and sugar in a large saucepan so all the grapes are coated and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the elderflower cordial and half of the crushed fennel seeds. (Keep the rest for sprinkling on the tarts later).

Bring to a boil over a medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the syrup thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 -25 minutes. Pour the compote into a sieve over a bowl to collect the syrup and let the grapes drain well.

Store the grapes and syrup, covered, separately in the fridge until needed.

For the Tartlets

  • 1 block frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
  • 6 or 7  5mm thick triangular slices of Manchego cheese, rind removed
  • grape compote (see above)
  • the rest of the crushed fennel seeds (see above)

Dust your work surface & rolling-pin with flour and roll out the block of pastry, with the narrowest end facing you, into a long thin rectangle about 2 or 3 mm thick.

See photo above. Place one of the slices of Manchego onto the beginning (nearest you) of the pastry rectangle so it is pointing like an arrow to the right. Cut around the cheese leaving a 5 mm border all the way around. Turn the cheese arrow round so it is pointing to the left above the first triangle and do the same. Continue alternating like this until you have run out of pastry. You should get 6 or 7 triangles.

Score a 5 mm border with sharp knife on each pastry triangle but don’t cut all the way through. Trim the short side of the triangle to make it neat.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220 C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and place your pastry triangles on it, spaced apart. Put 1 small teaspoon of grape compote in the middle of each of the triangles and spread it out slightly. Don’t go into the 5mm border.

Brush the pastry borders with egg wash and sprinkle a few of the crushed fennel seeds on the borders too (save some for garnishing the finished tart). Cook for about 12 minutes until browned and risen. Keep an eye on them though.

You can keep them like this until you are ready to serve. Then preheat the oven again if necessary, top each with a slice of Manchego and bake for another 2 minutes, just until the cheese melts.

Top with another teaspoon or so of the compote and sprinkle with a little of the crushed fennel seeds. Serve on a flat plate with a simple green salad and drizzle over the grape and elderflower syrup. If your syrup has set in the fridge just heat it up with a bit more elderflower cordial.

These make a great light lunch or starter but you could also quite easily serve them as a dessert/cheese course. They’ve got that sweet cheesey danish pastry feel that would work for afternoon tea too.

They taste just as good at room temperature and would be perfect for a summer picnic with some sparkling elderflower cordial or a nice bottle of chilled cava.

Buen Provecho!!

Things that made me smile today….

Our new friend the Shetland pony. He likes us because we take him carrots.

The Washer Up calls him “Donkey” (from Shrek), I think it might be the teeth!!

Buen Fin de Semana!


38 Responses to “White Grape, Manchego and Fennel Seed Tartlets”

  1. Maris(In Good Taste) July 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    The grapes on the vines look so beautiful. I don’t think i have ever seen that. The tartlets look deliicous!

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    Such nice pictures, although I now long for cool enough weather to want to walk the dog, need a big glass of riesling and am hungry.

  3. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts July 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    What an interesting dish. This looks so pretty, and sounds wonderful!

  4. Tammy July 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    This looks amazing. I have champagne grapes coming right now and I’m excited.

  5. eileencarpio July 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Absolutely going to give this one a go. Very excited to get new interesting recipes. Thanks!

  6. Simply Sublime July 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Sounds like a wonderful combination! Yum!

  7. Isabelle @ Crumb July 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    This looks like a wonderful combination of flavours! I’ll have to check my local Ikea to see if they carry elderflower cordial so I can try out this recipe… especially since I’d been meaning to hunt some down to make elderflower spritzers anyways.

  8. Vicki @ WITK July 17, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    MMm, manchego cheese is my favorite! I love the sound of this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  9. tiffany July 17, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    When I worked at a tapas restaurant, I would eat Manchego throughout my entire shift to keep my energy up! If only the chefs would have made tarts like this!

  10. E July 17, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    mmmm… grapes! This dish looks delicious, and your pictures are always so beautiful 🙂 amazing post!

  11. chicaandaluza July 17, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Lovely, lovely dish – when my grapes are ready will give this a go. They´re muscat, so should be a lovely taste. I love that Ikea Elderflower cordial! Maybe we´ll bump into each other one day in Ikea in Malaga buying grill pans and cordial!

    • foodblogandthedog July 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      I don’t know what I’d do without Ikea! I’m always buying something for the kitchen in there, usually bowls & plates for props!!

  12. peasepudding July 17, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    The grape compote sounds wonderful and I am so envious of your Manchego cheese, you need a small mortgage to buy it here in NZ.

  13. kat July 17, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    That looks so delicious! Can’t wait to try!! I’m new to blogging and love checking out everyone’s foodie blogs here on wordpress. Could you please check out http://shecooksandheeats.wordpress.com/ and provide some feedback on how to gain more exposure? Thanks

  14. Medeja July 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Sounds like a nice combination of flavors. I envy you again that you have that luxury – fresh fruit 🙂

  15. Angie's Recipes July 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    That’s a piece of heaven on plate!

  16. Jackie July 18, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    mmm this does sound good. I will be adding this to my recipes to try. Love your new friend.

  17. Mama J July 18, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Amazing. I feel like I say that same thing all the time on your posts. But really, your photos and food are ALWAYS amazing.

  18. kankana July 18, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Liking are idea of this tartlets and the fennel seed will add so much flavor to it !

  19. Tes July 18, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Those slices look so amazing 🙂 It sounds so juicy and aromatic 🙂

  20. tony ward July 18, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Stop this, I’m spending all my time in the kitchen as it is, but……..just this one more time, sounds and looks DE VINE !!!(good pun hey??).
    Well done on you wordpress stuff and look out Nigella, my girls gonna do it without the twinsets !! xx

  21. Aimee@clevermuffin July 18, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    This looks so fresh and summery (and quite fancy, i feel guests would be quite impressed if I served this up). Especially like the edition of elderflower cordial!

  22. Christina July 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Mmmm..this tart looks fabulous!

  23. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen July 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Gorgeous tartlet! I love the combo of cheese and grapes. But I love the picture of the donkey even more! Too cute. 🙂

  24. Caroline July 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    Manchego cheese is one of my favorites. Grapes are great to cook with–I’ve used them before in a balsamic reduction sauce and they were delicious. The photos of the pony are hilarious, especially the one of him eating the carrot!

  25. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets July 19, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    LOL at the pony close-up. I’ve never seen a tart with these flavors and I’d be the 1st in line to try it if I did. So creative :).

  26. Nami @ Just One Cookbook July 19, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    This is amazing. I love cheese but I haven’t tried Manchego before and will definitely look for it. This is such a lovely tartlets and I would love to have a piece (for sure, possibly two piece easily). All these pictures made me super hungry and craving for this!

  27. Rita July 19, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Woah! I’ve been away form the blogosphere for a while (toddler is a bit demanding… :P) and I must say I missed a lot of wonderful posts!! I wish I had time to read them all!!
    I love cooking with grapes: they add a very particular flavor to dishes. Glad you have ripe grapes over there. Here you can find some, but not that much, actually. Have a nice day! Cheers! 🙂

  28. Hannah (BitterSweet) July 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I’ve never seen a grape compote before- Fascinating! I can imagine it would be fantastic paired with all sorts of both sweet and savory dishes.

  29. SpanishFoodie July 20, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Delicious recipe for yummy Manchego cheese! In the USA you can buy Authentic Manchego cheese at http://www.rapososgourmet.com or check them out at Amazon.com storefront with 99% customer satisfaction!

  30. greatestwealth July 21, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Mmmm that looks so delicious… And the photos are fantastic as well!

  31. 2eat2drink July 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    This sounds great! Love manchego….


  1. Grape and Fennel Seed Spelt Focaccia with Sea Salt and Basil « Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - September 9, 2012

    […] sole and they go very nicely on a cheese board of course. About the same time last year I made a White Grape & Manchego Cheese Tartlet that I sprinkled with fennel seeds and served with an elderflower […]

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