We spent eleven days driving around the island of Sicily in May, and along with some wonderful memories, gorgeous photos, and a few souvenirs, I also brought home a small notebook filled with food descriptions. I carry this notebook with me whenever I travel, to keep notes about special meals, unique food combinations, or specific dishes that I want to make myself when we return home. One of the notes describes this easy, yet impressive looking sunflower shaped savory breakfast treat that we were served at Hotel Villa Calandrino in Sciacca. It was so lovely to look at that none of the guests wanted to cut into it, but since I knew it was something I wanted to make myself when I returned home, I cut a piece to give it a try. The filling is a simple one, just spinach, cheese, egg, and seasonings, but wrapped in the tender puff pastry, it was delicious. I am a sucker for anything that looks like a sunflower, so this puff pastry dish was something I knew I’d like. Although we were served this savory puffed pastry treat for breakfast, it would also be a great option on an antipasti table when entertaining.
To create this tasty breakfast treat, you will need two sheets of puff pastry cut into rounds. Here in Italy, puff pastry, or “pasta sfoglia”, is sold in every grocery store in either a round or square shape. I use the Buitoni brand and find it very easy to work with. The spinach must be precooked and squeezed dry as any added liquid will cause the pastry to become soggy. You can boil or microwave your spinach, but afterward allow it to cool, then either use your hands or a kitchen towel to squeeze it as dry as possible. I prepared my version of this dish exactly as I had been served it in Sicily, but my grandson suggests serving it with a bowl of tomato sauce for dipping which is not a bad idea, especially if you served this as an appetizer to guests.
Deborah Mele 2016
Sunflower Spinach Puff Pastry Tart
- 2 Sheets Round Puff Pastry (About 14 Inches in Diameter)
- 2 Cups Cooked Spinach, Squeezed Dry (See Notes Above)
- 3/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Cheese
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
- 2 Eggs, Separated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the spinach, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a food processor and pulse until mixed.
- Add one of the eggs and pulse again.
- Place the other egg in a small bowl and beat until foamy.
- Lay one sheet of the puff pastry unto the prepared baking sheet.
- Take a small bowl, about 4-inches wide, and press it down slightly in the center to mark placement of the filling.
- Take a pastry brush, and brush a 1-inch border around the outside of the pastry sheet.
- Spoon the spinach mixture evenly on the outside of the puff pastry, leaving the egg brushed border free.
- Spoon the remaining spinach mixture into a mound within the markings that you made with the bowl, leaving a 1-inch space between the outer spinach border and the center.
- Place the other pastry sheet over the filling, meeting the edges as best as you can.
- Use your fingers to gently press the pastry around the center circle and outer edges.
- Use a sharp knife, and make cuts like spokes on a wheel, from the center where you pressed down the pastry to the outside, allowing the cuts to be a little wider on the outer edges.
- Continue to cut strips evenly around the sunflower.
- Gently pick up each strip, and twist it twice, then place it back onto the parchment paper.
- Continue until all of the “spokes” have been twisted.
- Use the remaining beaten egg to brush the top of the sunflower and twisted spokes.
- Bake the sunflower until puffy and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool 10 minutes before serving.