Ricotta and Spinach Puff Pastry (Tarte Soleil | Holiday Appetizer)

5 from 9 votes
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This ricotta and spinach puff pastry tarte soleil combines just a handful of ingredients, simple prep, a flexible cheese, and spinach filling, and is perfect for serving as a holiday appetizer for Christmas or New Year’s Eve as well as at potlucks, picnics, and dinner parties! Gluten-free and vegan options included!

Spinach ricotta pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

If you like spanakopita, Borek, and other cheese and spinach puff pastry/pastry bakes, then you’ll adore the fancy holiday twist of this Ricotta and spinach puff pastry “Tarte Soleil” (aka sun tart). Although it looks fairly complicated to prepare, it’s incredibly simple (even get your kids involved), while remaining an impressive crowd-pleaser (both in looks and taste!).

If spinach and ricotta are a match made in heaven, then spinach, ricotta, parmesan, and puff pastry are downright sinful. With a crispy, flaky crust filled with a cheesy, flavor-packed spinach center, guests and family alike are bound to love this easy spinach pastry. However, there are also tons of ways to adapt this flexible ricotta and spinach pie based on dietary and taste preference (gluten-free, vegan, different cheese, egg-free, add some spice, the list goes on!).

All you need is just 10 ingredients for this spinach and ricotta puff pastry appetizer, with store-bought puff pastry cutting down on prep time for this cheese and spinach puff pastry. You can even choose from several ways to shape the spinach pastry too! (think Christmas tree – like this pesto Christmas tree, wreath, log, or even individual spinach puffs, etc.!).

Want to experiment with more interesting spinach recipes? You might also enjoy these spinach fatayer (pastries), ricotta and spinach ravioli, Borani (spinach yogurt dip), or homemade spinach pasta salad!

The Spinach Ricotta Puff Pastry Tarte Soleil Ingredients

  • Puff pastry: feel free to use gluten-free if preferred. You’ll need two sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry for this tarte soleil.
  • Egg: needed for the egg wash over the pastry. Alternatively, you could use a little coconut oil or butter.

The Ricotta and Spinach Pie Filling

This spanakopita-inspired spinach and cheese filling requires just 7 ingredients, plus salt and pepper.

  • Spinach: I use baby spinach for the milder flavor. You can use fresh or frozen (thawed overnight and excess liquid drained).
  • Ricotta: I use homemade ricotta. For a vegan version, you could use vegan ricotta.
  • Parmesan: use freshly grated, high-quality parmesan NOT the store cupboard sprinkle stuff. You could also swap this out with other cheeses like cheddar and other melty cheese.
  • Egg: This will help to bind the ingredients in the cheese and spinach pie filling. Read below for an egg-free option.
  • Seasonings: I used a simple combination of dried basil, oregano, and salt and pepper in this spinach cheese pastry.
  • Breadcrumbs: breadcrumbs will help to soak up the excess liquid in the spinach ricotta puff pastry to stop the pastry from becoming soggy.
Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

Other Add-ins & Recipe Variations

The simplicity of this spinach ricotta puff pastry means there are several ways to adapt this recipe. Whether it’s adjusting it to dietary requirements or experimenting with jazzing up the cheese and spinach filling. Here are some of my top recommendations:

  • Pine nuts: you can optionally top the spinach pie puff pastry with a sprinkle of lightly toasted pine nuts.
  • Sesame seeds: you can optionally sprinkle sesame seeds in the center of the tarte soleil.
  • Feta spinach puff pastry: I recommend using a combination of full-fat cream cheese and feta (otherwise, they’ll be very salt). As feta is saltier, reduce the amount of added salt in the feta spinach pastry recipe.
  • Goat cheese: alternatively, goat cheese or garlic and herb goat cheese would work well with spinach.
  • Artichoke: you can add a jar of finely chopped marinated artichoke to the filling.
  • Aromatics: some sauteed onion and garlic will add extra depth of flavor to the spinach and ricotta pie. Roasted garlic would also work well.
  • Spice: add a hint of spice with the addition of either finely chopped chili, red pepper flakes, or a dash of chili/cayenne pepper (to taste).
  • Lemon: add extra depth of flavor with the addition of some lemon zest and/or a splash of lemon juice.
  • Other Herbs/Spices: a pinch of garlic and onion powder and/or nutmeg will enhance the cheese and spinach puff pastry filling.
  • Other vegetables: there are several other vegetables you could add, including mushrooms, sweet potato, diced butternut squash, leek, etc. Make sure they’re thoroughly cooked before adding to the filling.
  • Eggfree: omit the egg in the filling entirely (it will be looser but still taste fine) and use butter or oil in place of the egg wash.
  • Vegan: use vegan ricotta, a melty vegan cheese PLUS nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan, and swap out the egg wash for oil or vegan butter.
  • Glutenfree: use gluten-free puff pastry.

Alternative Tarte Soleil Filling Options

  • Pesto and cheese: instead of the spinach and ricotta filling, you could use a pesto and cheese filling as I did for this puff pastry Christmas tree!
  • Olive tapenade and ricotta: spread a thin layer of the tapenade first and top with the ricotta. Alternatively, you can use all tapenade filling and serve with a whipped ricotta (or feta) dip.
  • Cheesy garlic butter: spread a thick layer of herby garlic butter on the pastry and top off with a melty cheese like mozzarella/vegan mozzarella.
Chocolate pastry pie ' Tarte Soleil'

You can also use sweet fillings. For example:

  • Strawberry cheesecake: add a fairly neutral cream cheese layer beneath strawberry jam (or your fruit jam of choice) or compote.
  • Nutella: like I’ve done for this sweet tarte soleil.
  • Cinnamon sugar: brush a layer of melted butter, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.

How to Make Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastry Tarte Soleil?

While there are several steps to preparing this spinach puff pastry appetizer, each step is very simple.

Step 1: Cut Out the Pastry

Using a plate or wide bowl (around 10-12-inch wide), cut out circles from both puff pastry sheets. Keep what will be your bottom piece on the parchment paper the pastry comes rolled in and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs.

If the puff pastry isn’t rolled out, first roll it out to ¼-inch thickness. You can use the scraps to make extra pastries or to cut into decorations for the spinach ricotta puff pastry (for example, cut into bows, leaves, berries, etc.)

Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

Step 2: Prepare the Spinach Ricotta Filling

Start by cooking the spinach. You can either steam, boil, or sauté it until tender. Then allow it to cool slightly and squeeze out all the excess liquid (either by hand, in a nut milk bag, or pressing through a strainer).

If you’re using frozen spinach, allow it to thaw and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Save the removed liquid to add to smoothies, juices, soups, and stews.

Then roughly chop it into smaller pieces (to easily combine with the cheese).

In a large bowl or a blender/food processor, combine the spinach with the ricotta cheese, 2/3 of the parmesan, and the egg (if used). Then add the salt, pepper, and dried herbs. And mix/blend once more to distribute.

Step 3: Assemble the Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastry Pie

Use a small bowl to gently score your bottom layer of puff pastry directly in the center (this will be the middle of the tarte soleil.)

Leaving about ½-inch from the outside of the pastry circle, add a thick 2-inch rope of filling, keeping enough to pile within the marked area in the center of the pastry (use the images for guidance).

Don’t worry if there’s some filling left; this can fill the pastry scraps or for several other uses (read note section).

Once filled, top the filling with the remaining parmesan and a liberal sprinkle of breadcrumbs and lightly brush the exposed bits of dough with a tiny amount of water.

Then, lay the second sheet of puff pastry over the first. Use the small bowl to help seal the center filling in place (I also used a fork to prod around this part), and then use a fork to crimp and seal the outer edges of the spinach pastry.

Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

Step 4: Chill and Twist the Spinach Tarte Soleil

Transfer the ricotta spinach pie puff pastry to the fridge to chill for 20 minutes (this will make it easier to shape the “rays” of the tarte soleil).

Once chilled, remove the spinach pie puff pastry from the fridge and place it on a baking tray for the next steps. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.

Then brush with the egg wash (while messy, it’s best to do this now as it becomes trickier once the spinach ricotta tarte soleil is shaped).

Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

Cutting just short of the center circle of the pastry, make slices every 2 inches or so to cut out the sun’s rays. I ended up with 15.

If you want it to be a bit more precise, you can use a ruler (this way, you’ll get 16, slightly smaller twists). First, use the ruler to slice four equal quadrants. Then place the ruler in the middle of those sections and slice, and repeat once more. Voila, 16 pieces.

Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

Finally, twist each “ray” 90º so the filling is facing upwards. If any of the ends seem loose, pinch them together more.

Step 5: Bake the Spinach Pie Puff Pastry

Transfer the cheesy spinach pastry to the oven to bake at 350ºF/180ºC for between 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Then remove from the oven and serve!

How to Serve?

You can enjoy this cheesy ricotta spinach pastry either warm, at room temperature, or chilled in several ways:

  • Have it as part of a party spread (works well at Christmas/New Year’s or any holidays).
  • Enjoy at a picnic or BBQ.
  • Make for a potluck.

You can enjoy the spinach cheese puff pastry alone or serve it with a dipping sauce (perhaps marinara), side salads, and/or cooked veggies.

Spinach pie pastry tarte soleil with cheese

How to Make Ahead?

There are several ways that you can meal-prep/make ahead this ricotta spinach puff pastry, including:

  • The filling: you can prepare the filling up to 2 days in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge for 2 days.
  • Unbaked pastry: assemble the ricotta and spinach pie tarte soleil (minus the egg wash)  several hours (3-4) before baking and store, covered in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, add the egg wash and add an extra minute or two to the baking time if needed.
  • Freeze unbaked: I haven’t tried this, though I imagine it’s possible. Flash freeze on a baking tray. Then wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and place in a large Ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. You can then bake it from frozen, adding 5-10 minutes to the baking time (monitor it).

You can also prepare and bake the spinach ricotta puff pastry and freeze it to reheat later (check the method below).

How to Store and Reheat?

Store: allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Freeze: allow to cool, wrap in plastic wrap, then place in a Ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating (to crisp up the pastry again)

Reheat: to crisp up the pastry once more, reheat the ricotta spinach puff pastry in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. For individual servings, you could even use a microwave.

FAQs

Can I make this spinach pastry into other shapes?

Yes, there are many ways to shape the cheese and spinach puff pastry. The shapes that are most similar to this tarte soleil include:
A wreath: cut out the center and skip the twists (decorate with pastry bows/holly leaves/berries). Prod a few holes in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
A snowflake: instead of twisting each twist in the same direction, twist two (at a time) inwards, then pinch the ends together. Repeat with the remaining ray, and you’ll have a snowflake.
I’ve also made a puff pastry Christmas tree. Alternatively, you can make it into a parcel, sausage roll shape, envelope, etc. Prod or slash the top of any “closed” pastry shape, though, to allow the steam to escape (otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy pastry).

Can I make individual-sized spinach puffs?

While there are probably several ways to do this, I’ve only experimented with one, to make spinach puffs:
Slice both sheets of puff pastry into 9 equal squares. Place those in 2 lightly greased muffin trays, fill with the filling, pull the corners of the pastry to the middle and pinch together, chill for 15 minutes, then brush with the egg wash (or butter/oil) and bake for between 20-25 minutes, swapping the trays around halfway. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing the spinach puffs from the muffin tins.

Can I substitute the puff pastry?

You may be able to use pizza dough or crescent roll dough (gently pinch/smooth the seams) for this spinach ricotta pie. However, the baking time will vary, so pay attention to the package instructions.

Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Ensure you thoroughly drain the spinach: it will make your pastry soggy if it’s wet.If, after squeezing, it still seems quite wet, you can place it in a saucepan/skillet over low-medium heat to cook off the remaining liquid.
  • Don’t skip the chilling stage: not only does this make it easier to shape the pastry twists, but the dough needs to be chilled when going in the oven for the best results. If it’s a very warm day, you may even benefit from chilling it once more after shaping the twists.
  • Roll out any seams: even when using pre-rolled pastry, it’s best to gently roll/smooth and seams/cracks in the pastry so it doesn’t crack in the oven.
  • Create a “half and half” filled pastry: simply use one filling on one half of the tart and one on the other.
  • If you have leftover filling: you can use it in recipes like ravioli, lasagna, stuffed veggies, etc.

More Holiday Appetizers/ Party Food

If you try this Ricotta and Spinach Puff Pastry (Tarte Soleil | Holiday Appetizer) recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Ricotta and Spinach Puff Pastry (Tarte Soleil | Holiday Appetizer)

5 from 9 votes
By: Samira
This ricotta and spinach puff pastry tarte soleil combines just a handful of ingredients, simple prep, a flexible cheese, and spinach filling, and is perfect for serving as a holiday appetizer for Christmas or New Year's Eve as well as at potlucks, picnics, and dinner parties! Gluten-free and vegan options included!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 15

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pack puff pastry use gluten-free if preferred
  • 1 egg for egg wash; alternatively, melted butter or coconut oil would work

For the Filling

  • 14 oz boiled baby leaf spinach or frozen and thawed spinach
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese or vegan ricotta
  • 2.6 oz Grated Parmesan fresh
  • 1 egg omit if preferred (used as a binder)
  • Dried herbs including oregano and basil
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs to sprinkle

Check the blog post for lots of recipe adaptations, add-ins, and alternative fillings!

Instructions 

Step 1: Cut Out the Pastry

  • Using a plate or wide bowl (around 10-12-inch wide), cut out circles from both puff pastry sheets. Keep what will be your bottom piece on the parchment paper the pastry comes rolled in and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs.
    If the puff pastry isn't rolled out, first roll it out to ¼-inch thickness. You can use the scraps to make extra pastries or to cut into decorations for the spinach ricotta puff pastry (for example, cut into bows, leaves, berries, etc.)

Step 2: Prepare the Spinach Ricotta Filling

  • Start by cooking the spinach. You can either steam, boil, or sauté it until tender. Then allow it to cool slightly and squeeze out all the excess liquid (either by hand, in a nut milk bag, or pressing through a strainer).
    If you're using frozen spinach, allow it to thaw and squeeze out all the excess liquid. Save the removed liquid to add to smoothies, juices, soups, and stews.
  • Then roughly chop it into smaller pieces (to easily combine with the cheese).
  • In a large bowl or a blender/food processor, combine the spinach with the ricotta cheese, 2/3 of the parmesan, and the egg (if used). Then add the salt, pepper, and dried herbs. And mix/blend once more to distribute.

Step 3: Assemble the Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastry Pie

  • Use a small bowl to gently score your bottom layer of puff pastry directly in the center (this will be the middle of the tarte soleil).
  • Leaving about ½ in from the outside of the pastry circle, add a thick 2-inch rope of filling, keeping enough to pile within the marked area in the center of the pastry (use the images on the blog post for guidance).
    Don't worry if there's some filling left; this can fill the pastry scraps or for several other uses (read the Notes section).
  • Once filled, top the filling with the remaining parmesan and a liberal sprinkle of breadcrumbs and lightly brush the exposed bits of dough with a tiny amount of water.
  • Lay the second sheet of puff pastry over the first. Use the small bowl to help seal the center filling in place (I also used a fork to prod around this part), and then use a fork to crimp and seal the outer edges of the spinach pastry.

Step 4: Chill and Twist the Spinach Tarte Soleil

  • Transfer the ricotta spinach pie puff pastry to the fridge to chill for 20 minutes (this will make it easier to shape the "rays" of the tarte soleil).
  • Once chilled, remove the spinach pie puff pastry from the fridge and place it on a baking tray for the next steps. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
  • Brush with the egg wash (while messy, it's best to do this now as it becomes trickier once the spinach ricotta tarte soleil is shaped).
  • Cutting just short of the center circle of the pastry, make slices every 2 inches or so to cut out the pastry sun's rays. I ended up with 15.
    If you want it to be a bit more precise, you can use a ruler (this way, you'll get 16, slightly smaller twists). First, use the ruler to slice four equal quadrants. Then place the ruler in the middle of those sections and slice, and repeat once more. Voila, 16 pieces.
  • Finally, twist each "ray" 90-degrees so the filling is facing upwards. If any of the ends seem loose, pinch them together more.

Step 5: Bake the Spinach Pie Puff Pastry

  • Transfer the cheesy spinach pastry to the oven to bake at 350ºF/180ºC for between 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Then remove from the oven and serve!

Notes

  • Ensure you thoroughly drain the spinach: it will make your pastry soggy if it’s wet. If, after squeezing, it still seems quite wet, you can place it in a saucepan/skillet over low-medium heat to cook off the remaining liquid.
  • Don’t skip the chilling stage: not only does this make it easier to shape the pastry twists, but the dough needs to be chilled when going in the oven for the best results. If it’s a very warm day, you may even benefit from chilling it once more after shaping the twists.
  • Roll out any seams: even when using pre-rolled pastry, it’s best to gently roll/smooth and seams/cracks in the pastry so it doesn’t crack in the oven.
  • Create a “half and half” filled pastry: simply use one filling on one half of the tart and one on the other.
 
Check the blog post for lots of optional add-ins, alternative fillings, and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Side, Snack
Cuisine: European
Freezer friendly: 1 Month (uncooked), 3 Months
Shelf life: 3 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 255kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 205mg, Potassium: 206mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 2657IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 134mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 9 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    I made this for a potluck and it came out great – everyone loved it!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      So happy to hear this, Jennifer!

  2. Anja says:

    What are the stars in your original picture made out of? They are so cool! I’d love to make an exact replica!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Anja.
      The stars are made with avocado (thin slices) and very small cookie/food cutters. You could also just cut them out with a knife – a bit more work but doable. Make sure to drizzle some lemon juice over the avocado so it stays green. I hope you give this a try 🙂

  3. Nicole says:

    What is a “clock of pastry”?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thanks for spotting this, Nicole. It’s supposed to be “block of pastry”, the typo is now fixed.

  4. Mira says:

    5 stars
    Super good!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much, Mira.