Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad

I vowed I would never become a nurse. I made this pledge at a young age, and based it solely and superficially on the fact that my mom, who was in this noble profession, had hands that were cracked and dry from frequent hand washings. Patient after patient, wash after wash, her hands were lined and read like a topographic map. I pitied her hands, which seemed impenetrable to lotion, and I decided to avoid it at all costs.

Yesterday, as I held my son’s hand and walked up the stairs, he noticed something. Mama, he said, your hand feels dry.

The winter months are always harsh on my skin, and it is usually as we enter spring that the season’s damage becomes apparent.

In all my vanity, I have my mom’s hands. I have the hands of a mother. Hands that cook, that clean, that wash, that sanitize, that bathe, that do laundry. Hands that write lunch notes. Hands that feel for temperatures. Hands that hold.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The warmer temperatures of spring renew, and even my winter weathered hands will eventually respond to moisturizer. They will become soft again.

Photo by William Meppem for Donna Hay Magazine no. 61

This lovely photograph (above) of Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad is the subject of this month’s Donna Hay Styling & Photography Challenge. I had so much fun with the last challenge that when I saw this vibrant recipe selected by Simone from the most recent Donna Hay Magazine, I knew I wanted to tackle it, both in the kitchen and through a lens.

This photograph was definitely more straightforward to recreate – the hardest part being shadows from my baking pan having deeper sides as compared to the original. Using both a silver and white reflector helped. But that detail aside, I loved the vibrant colors that called out, spring is here! My baking pan had never looked so cheerful.

My version.

The sweetness of the peas and tomatoes were already vibrant from the dressing and fresh mint, but placed on top of the artichoke and feta tarts, I was in heaven. Sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, it was all there, each bite was punctuated by the buttery aroma that permeated my kitchen.

When my son returned to the kitchen to investigate, he tried to help me, his little hands holding my reflector to the right angle. Even now, he has helpful hands. Mama, can I try?, he asked as he tried to sneak a tomato. He was rewarded with a taste of spring.

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Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

These tarts are not only stunning to look at, they are a zesty, spring-ready dish that is very simple to make. The tarts would make a perfect appetizer if you are entertaining, or in my case, a very satisfying lunch.


1 sheet store bought puff pastry, thawed
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
4 artichoke heart, marinated and halved
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup mint leaves
olive oil, for drizzling
white balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
kosher salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the pastry into 4 squares, and score a 1/4 inch border around each square. Place the squares on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and top with feta and artichoke. Brush the borders of the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Place the tomatoes, peas and mint in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, and toss to combine. Top the tarts with the tomato salad. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine.

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by Liren Baker on March 22, 2012

31 Responses to “Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad”

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook March 22, 2012 @ 8:13 am (#

    This is so beautiful and your photo and Donna Hay’s photo are almost same!!! I had to look carefully which one is yours when I pinned. ;-) What an amazing job and I love this puff pastry recipe (my only baking technique). You write beautiful story Liren. I enjoy reading the story, photography, and recipe. You have it all. :-)

  2. Liz March 22, 2012 @ 9:50 am (#

    I completely agree with Nami. These are so gorgeous!!!! And yummy, too…a great recipe to usher in spring :)

  3. Sandra's Easy Cooking March 22, 2012 @ 1:26 pm (#

    I think you replicated the photo..looks almost the same! Great recipe! I love how simple it is but full of color and flavor! Thumps up!!!!

  4. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings March 22, 2012 @ 2:06 pm (#

    awesome!!! i wouldn’t be able to tell which was which if not for the quality of the scan you posted from Donna Hay magazine. You absolutely have the eye for detail and styling! These photos are just gorgeous!!!

  5. Jean March 22, 2012 @ 2:51 pm (#

    Personally, I don’t need to see the comparisons to the DH images to know you’re a talented photographer–I’ve always thought so. However, I think you get an A++ on this one. Lovely colors!

  6. Trish March 22, 2012 @ 3:30 pm (#

    I have dry hands too :( I love using shea helps some. Love your photos, Liren! Hope you win the challenge! The recipe sounds light and delicious.

  7. Suzanne March 22, 2012 @ 4:53 pm (#

    Nice post, and your photos turned out beautiful. It’s funny how we become like our parents even when we thought it wasn’t what we wanted as a child but with age and wisdom we realize it’s everyone we want.

  8. Meg March 22, 2012 @ 5:04 pm (#

    Looks so delicious, and perfectly light for spring and summer :)

  9. Mdivani March 22, 2012 @ 5:06 pm (#

    Beautiful photos! And LOVE the recipe! Thanks! XOXO

  10. Kiran @ March 22, 2012 @ 6:58 pm (#

    Gorgeous and simply delicious — it looks so similar to Donna Hay’s :)

  11. Lacy @ NYCityEats March 22, 2012 @ 7:53 pm (#

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! Your tarts look just like the original! The colors are seriously a beautiful mix! Plus it sounds absolutely delicious!

  12. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts March 22, 2012 @ 8:38 pm (#

    What a gorgeous picture! The tarts sound good, but I could look at the pictures all day!

  13. Rikki March 22, 2012 @ 9:11 pm (#

    Oh my goodness I want these for dinner tonight! They look so good, with the feta and tomatoes mmmm. Your photos are beautiful, the colors pop right out of my screen haha I love it!

  14. Patty March 22, 2012 @ 9:48 pm (#

    I’m putting this tart recipe on my to bake list and your photos are gorgeous! I’m thinking Spring you’re here!

  15. Sara March 23, 2012 @ 3:13 am (#

    Tart has two of my favorite ingredients feta & artichokes! Love your photography..better than DH’s :)

  16. myfudo March 23, 2012 @ 4:03 am (#

    Wonderful presentation! I love this recipe…

  17. Simone March 23, 2012 @ 5:43 am (#

    Very well done indeed!! I had to look twice to see the difference between original and yours! And aren’t they totally delicious? So glad you could make it again this month!

    • liren replied: — March 23rd, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

      Simone, thank you, I’m glad you think so! They were so good – I had intended to share them with a friend, but ended up inhaling all of it myself (oops).

  18. Tobias @ T and Tea Cake March 23, 2012 @ 9:00 pm (#

    You have a wonderful way of storytelling here, Liren. I truly enjoyed reading this meaningful post. In fact, there is so much goodness in this post, I really don’t know what to focus on.

    Nurses deserve my full respect. I, for instance, could never be one. The syringes alone…


  19. Katie @ Epicurean Mom March 24, 2012 @ 2:40 am (#

    Gorgeous tarts!! These sound so refreshing! My hands are like sandpaper in the winter too! Ugh! I’ve tried pretty much every lotion, cream etc.. known to man. Nothing helps :(

  20. Laura (Tutti Dolci) March 24, 2012 @ 4:00 am (#

    Gorgeous colors, these tarts are my dream spring lunch!

  21. Jennifer (Delicieux) March 24, 2012 @ 11:51 pm (#

    Wow, it was hard to tell the difference between yours and original. You did a fantastic job, in fact I think your version looks better.

  22. Magic of Spice March 25, 2012 @ 5:41 pm (#

    My mother is a nurse as well, and I always had the same thoughts about her hands…
    You did a beautiful job with the photo recreation, lovely :) And this looks simply scrumptious!

    • liren replied: — March 25th, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

      So comforting to know my mom wasn’t the only one! I always wondered (and clearly assumed) if other nurses suffered from dry hands. Nurses (and moms!) are definitely special people :) And thank you, I had a lot of fun photographing these tarts. It was almost as fun as eating them.

  23. tanja@tanjascookingcorner March 25, 2012 @ 10:20 pm (#

    Oh yes, spring is here ♥ I really had to look twice to see the difference between the original and your photograph! Beautiful tarts and an even more beautiful story… Thanks for sharing it!


  24. Koko @ Koko Likes March 26, 2012 @ 4:26 am (#

    This look amazing!!!

  25. Platanos, Mangoes & Me! March 28, 2012 @ 3:54 pm (#

    Perfect. You are quite talented and a wonderful person.

  26. MoonFaCe March 30, 2012 @ 5:42 pm (#

    your photograph is stunning and your writing is very beautiful and touching. I have also participated in the challenge and I think your photo looks the best. Good luck.
    My mom is not a nurse but she always had dry hands and feet. I promised to my self that I will not have those when I grow up. Couldn’t keep my promise for the dry hands but I have pedicures at the saloon regularly :)

  27. Simone April 12, 2012 @ 6:21 am (#

    And the good news is; you won the challenge!! If you can mail me or DM me your home address I can send you the book you won.. ;)

  28. Grishma @ZaikaZabardast April 12, 2012 @ 7:59 am (#

    Yay! Congratulations on winning this month’s challenge :) You absolutely deserve it!

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