I don’t know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy caprese pesto tarts all the time!

It’s easy to make a savory appetizer with puff pastry for gatherings and using a few key ingredients will make it taste like you’ve been in the kitchen for hours. Which is my favorite thing, make people think I’ve worked harder than I did.

We’ve done a whole post on pesto, how to make pesto, how to store pesto, how to freeze pesto, how to keep pesto green, how long pesto keeps, and we have plenty of recipes that use pesto which we will link up to at the bottom of the post. So, refer back to that post if you need to read up on pesto.

a photo of several pesto tartlets topped with balsamic glaze, basil and tomatoes
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Fisher Nuts, however all opinions remain our own.

What Do I Need to Make Pesto Tarts?

Here is a quick rundown of all the ingredients you’ll need. The measurements for everything can be found by scrolling down to the recipe card below.

For the Pesto

  • Basil: you can make your own fresh pesto (highly recommend!) or go with store-bought pesto to save time
  • Garlic: fresh whole cloves
  • Fisher Walnuts: We use walnuts instead of pine nuts to really push that more nutty flavor in this pesto.
  • Olive Oil: make sure it is extra virgin for the best flavor
  • Parmesan Cheese: adds flavor
  • Lemon Zest and Juice: adds a bright pop of freshness and helps keep the basil green
  • Salt: enhances all the flavors

For the Tarts

  • Puff Pastry: We use store bought puff pastry because hello, who has time to make that from scratch?
  • Grape Tomatoes: You can half them or leave them whole depending on the size.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: grab a block of good quality cheese and cube it, it melts so perfectly!
  • Black Pepper: adds flavor
a photo of a golden baked puff pastry pesto cup topped with a balsamic glaze and fresh basil.

Tips About Walnuts

Just as with our classic pesto, the secret to really great flavor is in toasting the nuts and garlic. Walnuts, when fresh are not bitter like you may believe. Instead they have a sweetness to them and with that robust garlic it really makes for a great pesto.

The pesto we will make today is a little different as it uses Fisher Nuts Walnuts. We did a random sampling and Fisher Nuts were preservative free, tasted the most fresh and not bitter since they weren’t past their date of freshness.

Did you know that? That good fresh walnuts taste juicy, nutty and sweet? To store walnuts, I keep mine in the blue bag we buy them in as the dark colored bag actually is best to keep them fresh, then we place them in the kitchen cupboard as light degrades the oils.

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time!

How to Make Pesto Puff Pastry Bites

We will start this recipe by making the pesto and then assemble the tarts. It’s so quick and easy! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Toast the walnuts and garlic on the stove top in a skillet.
    • TIP: You’ll toast the garlic in whole cloves with the skin on. After they are toasted, you can peel the skin right off.
  2. Add all the ingredients, including fresh pesto for the best flavor, to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Move the pesto to a small bowl.
  3. Add the parmesan or pecorino romano cheese and stir until combined. Salt to taste.
  4. Preheat the oven.
  5. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and roll out the puff pastry sheets.
  6. Using a biscuit cutter, or large glass, cut the dough into circles and press into the wells of a mini muffin pan. Use a fork to poke holes all over the inside of the puff pastry and bake it until golden.
  7. Remove them from the oven and using a small spoon or tart press, push the sides back out, making a well in each center.
  8. Stuff them with a little pesto, a tomato and a cube of cheese and put them in the oven again.
  9. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little salt and some balsamic glaze (optional).

The complete instructions can be found in the recipe card down at the end of the post.

a photo of unbaked puff pastry rounds pressed into a mini muffin pan

What is Pecorino Romano Cheese?

Pecorino is a term used to define Italian cheeses made from 100% sheep’s milk.

However, the American counterpart of the cheese is made from cow’s milk.

As the name suggests, the history of Pecorino Romano dates back to the Roman times when it was a part of the staple diet of soldiers at war.

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time! ohsweetbasil.com

What is the Difference Between Grape and Cherry Tomatoes?

Grape tomatoes are oblong and shaped like grapes.

They’re about half the size of cherry tomatoes, with thicker skins.

Grape tomatoes aren’t as sweet as cherry tomatoes, and their flesh is meatier and less watery.

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time! ohsweetbasil.com

What is Caprese?

Caprese is an dish or salad originating in Italy made from fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil, occasionally paired with arugula or topped with balsamic vinegar. It can be eaten as a salad or on a sandwich.

We are pretty dang obsessed with caprese here at Oh Sweet Basil. Have you tried our caprese sandwich or our caprese salad with pistachios?? Holy moly…that combination of flavors is just heaven for me!

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time! ohsweetbasil.com

Can Pesto Tarts Be Made Ahead?

These tarts can be assembled hours before, stored in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake and serve.

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time! ohsweetbasil.com

How Long Will Pesto Keep?

Fresh pesto can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week.

These pesto puff pastry bites, however, will not keep super well. The puff pastry will be soggy after a while.

a photo of a golden baked caprese pesto tart topped with balsamic glaze and a cherry tomato.

The best part about this pesto tarts recipe is, you can serve them hot or room temperature and they will still taste awesome! They are perfect for parties! Everybody loves caprese flavors, so pairing those flavors with pesto and the crispy puff pastry makes for a perfect party appetizer!

a photo of a golden crispy pesto puff pastry bite topped with a balsamic glaze and fresh basil

More Easy Appetizer Recipes

20 Minute Cheesy Caprese Pesto Tarts

4.50 from 4 votes
Servings: 24
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Description

I don't know about you, but I adore appetizers, especially around the holidays. We make these 20 minute cheesy pesto tarts all the time!

Ingredients 

For the Pesto

  • 1/4 Cup Fisher Walnuts
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Cups Basil, fresh, packed
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • Salt, to taste

For the Tarts

  • 2 Sheets Puff Pastry
  • 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, cubed
  • 1 Pinch Black Pepper, fresh cracked
  • Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

Instructions

For the Pesto

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the walnuts and garlic.
    1/4 Cup Fisher Walnuts, 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Toast for a few minutes or until golden brown, shaking the pan occasionally to toss the nuts and promote even color.
  • Once the nuts are done, remove them from the pan and continue to toast the garlic.
  • Remove it from the pan and remove the skin.
  • Wait until both are cooled.
  • Place the basil, nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest in a blender and pulse until smooth, but still a tad grainy in texture.
    3 Cups Basil, 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin, 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest, 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • Place everything in a bowl and stir in the cheese.
    1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt to taste and set aside.
    Salt

For the Tarts

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and roll out the puff pastry sheets.
    2 Sheets Puff Pastry
  • Using a biscuit cutter or large glass, cut the dough into circles.
  • Using a fork, poke holes all over the dough and gently press into a mini muffin tin.
  • Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, remove from the oven and using a small spoon or tart press, push the sides back out, making a well in each center. I often use my fingers and burn myself, but do it anyway. 🙂
  • Fill each cup with 1 teaspoon or so of prepared pesto.
  • Add a tomato to each cup, a sprinkle of cheese and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until golden and cheesy.
    1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • Remove from the oven and add a pinch of black pepper and drizzle of balsamic glaze.
    1 Pinch Black Pepper, Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
  • Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Notes

These tarts can be assembled hours before, stored in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 146kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 188mgPotassium: 61mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 251IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 200+ Easy Appetizers Recipes

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Fisher nuts. The opinions and text are all mine.

a photo of several pesto tartlets topped with balsamic glaze, basil and tomatoes