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.…

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.

Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad

Serves 4 | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 15 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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    Admiring the tijme and energy you put into your bloig and in depth information you provide.

    It’s good to come across a blog eery once in a while that isn’t the
    same olld rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Simone

    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.. ;)

  3. MoonFaCe

    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 :)

  4. tanja@tanjascookingcorner

    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!


  5. Magic of Spice

    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

      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.

  6. Katie @ Epicurean Mom

    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 :(

  7. Tobias @ T and Tea Cake

    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…


  8. Simone

    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

      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).

  9. Sara

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

  10. Patty

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

  11. Rikki

    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!

  12. Lacy @ NYCityEats

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

  13. Suzanne

    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.

  14. Trish

    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.

  15. Jean

    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!

  16. Liz

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

  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    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. :-)

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