Tarte Au Soleil with Pesto

Learn how to make a classic French appetizer known as a Tarte Au Soleil. A great appetizer idea for effortless entertaining made with store-bought puff pastry.

This is one of my favorite Puff Pastry Recipes for holiday entertaining because it's so easy to make, but looks so impressive! Guests are always WOWed by the presentation. But it's actually a cinch to make! It's also the kind of appetizer you can have prepped ahead of time and then bake moments before guests arrive! 

For another delicious, make-ahead appetizer that can be baked moments before the party, try my Easy Cheese Puff recipe, betcha can't eat just one! They are SO good! 

Tarte au Soleil with pesto on cutting board

What is a Tarte Au Soleil?

  • A Tarte au Soleil is a fun French appetizer made with a savory filling and puff pastry.
  • The pastry is sliced and twisted to create a large rounded tart that once baked, resembles a giant sun. Hence the name "sun tart".
  • My French relatives say it originated in the South of France where sunshine and pesto sauce are both plentiful!

A French Tradition

It's served as a savory nibble during the French cocktail hour, or Apero, as it's affectionately called in France, which can go on for several hours! So having something filling to nibble on is always a great idea!

Tarte au soleil on serving board

A 3-Ingredient Recipe!

Despite its impressive design, it's actually quite easy to make! All you need is some store-bought puff pastry a jar of pesto sauce and an egg. Seriously that's all there is to it folks! It all comes down to slicing and twisting the pastry sheets.

Twisting puff pastry sun rays on a cutting board for a Tarte au soleil

Puff Pastry: An Entertainer's Best Friend

This is why I love puff pastry recipes for the holidays! It does all the work for you and can make the simplest recipes into something so fancy! For a similar wow factor with puff pastry try my French Apricot Pastries, or my Mini Ham and Cheese Croissants or my French Apple Pastries for Christmas morning breakfast. 

Watch my Tarte au Soleil Video Demo Below!


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Step#1: Cut the Puff Pastry Sheets

  • Roll out the puff pastry sheet to remove any seams. The seams can force the pastry to crack in places that will disrupt your design, so best to roll those out first.
  • For this recipe, I use Trader Joe's Brand of Puff Pastry since it doesn't have any seams.
  • Place it on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. It helps if the baking sheet is flat, without a rim. This will allow your tarte au soleil to slide off easily after it's baked. 
  • Place a 10-12" dinner plate on top of the pastry and cut out a circle. 

placing a dinner plate on a puff pastry round

Step#2: Fill with Pesto

  • Then spread the pesto on the round, leaving a 1-inch border, then place a second puff pastry round on top.
  • Pesto is a classic filling for a Tarte au Soleil, but you really can fill them with anything you like. 

adding a second puff pastry round to an existing round filled with pesto sauce

Other Fillings for Tarte Au Soleil

  • Nutella topped with powdered sugar for a fun dessert idea
  • Raspberry jam and cream cheese for a brunch
  • Olive tapenade
  • Sundried tomato paste and parmesan
  • Goat cheese and fig jam

Step#3: Score and Twist the Pastry

Ok, this is where a little skill comes in, but really it isn't hard just takes a bit of pre-planning!

First, Create the Center

First, take a juice glass and place it in the center. This will be the center of your "sunflower design" and will help to line up the rays. 

a glass placed in the center of a puff pastry round

Second, Create Quadrants

  • Before cutting the individual rays, create 4 equal quadrants.
  • This will help to keep the single rays equally sized since you will only slice them in each quadrant, as opposed to trying to slice the rays free-hand around the full circle. 

slicing a puff pastry round with a chef knife

Third, Slice the Rays

Then slice the rays. You will get between 3-4 rays per quadrant, depending upon how big your puff pastry round is.

slicing rays into a tarte au soleil pastry round

Fourth, Twist the Rays

Here's the fun part! Twist each ray, twice, being careful not to twist the pastry "off" make sure it stays affixed to the center round. Then flatten down the end part to the parchment paper. 

Twisting sun rays of a tarte au soleil

Finally, Brush with Egg Wash

  • Then gently brush the tarte with a beaten egg.
  • This will help keep the pastry together while also delivering a beautiful shine once it's baked.
  • You can then choose to add sesame seeds in the center to create the look of a sunflower. 

brushing egg wash on to a tarte au soleil before baking it

Step#3: Bake and Serve

Bake the tarte at 400F for 20-25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. 

Tips for Serving

  • Once the tart is done you can serve it on a big cutting board and guests serve themselves by twisting off the rays!
  • It's a great appetizer for an open house because it tastes great hot or at room temperature. 
  • Be sure to offer cocktail napkins since this appetizer can get a bit messy!
  • The salty, starchy goodness goes great with a glass of champagne!

a Freshly baked Tarte au Soleil with pesto sauce on a cutting board

Make-Ahead Tip:

  • The tart can be made the day before, just cover lightly with parchment paper and leave it in the freezer or fridge. When it comes time to serve, bake immediately no need to thaw first.
  • If you have extra puff pastry you can use it for these other fun holiday recipes such as Baked Brie, Easy Almond Croissants, or Vegetarian Pot Pie with Root Veggies.

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Tarte au Soleil with Pesto on a Serving Board

Tarte Au Soleil Recipe with Pesto

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes

This beautiful tarte au soleil made with pesto and puff pastry always WOWs a crowd! It's so much easier to make than you may think and the whole thing can also be made ahead of time too!

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets puff pastry, cut into large 10” (25 cm) circles
  • 3 tablespoon (45ml) store-bought pesto OR Nutella for a dessert version
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sesame seeds if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
  2. Roll out pastry. Place a dinner plate down and cut out a circle. Transfer circle to a rimless baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Place pesto in the middle of the circle and spread over the pastry leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) border, all the way around pastry circle.
  4. Place 2nd circle on top.
  5. Place small juice glass in the center of the circle to create an indentation. Remove glass.
  6. Cut pastry into four quarters, keep the center intact as a circle.
  7. Then go into each quadrant and cut then in half then quarters this will create 4 slices per quadrant and create even “rays” around your tart. Place tray in the freezer for 5 mins just to firm up a bit to make it easier to twist the rays.
  8. Then twist each ray with a 2-turn twist, allowing the tail to lay flat. Once all the twists are made pop the tray back in the freezer for 5 mins, this will make it easier to brush the egg wash on.
  9. Brush beaten egg on the tart. Sprinkle center of the tart with sesame seeds. Place in the freezer for 5 mins to firm up. This will help the sun keep its shape as it hits the hot oven
  10. Bake tart for 20-25 mins until golden brown and puffed up. Serve on cutting board and invite guests to twist off the rays!

Notes

This whole thing can be done the day before, cover lightly with parchment paper and leave in freezer or fridge and when it comes time to serve, bake immediately no need to thaw first.

For other variations try:

  • goat cheese and tapenade
  • Nutella
  • Cream cheese and jam

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

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32 Comments

  1. Beth, the tarte was amazing and absolutely delicious. After Christmas, our kids and grandkids get together at our home for more
    festivities. I usually just serve finger foods/appetizers and this tarte fit the bill. The only thing I added was some flakey
    sea salt. Thank you for all your great recipes. Happy New Year to you and your family

    1. Aww YAY! I'm so glad it was a hit! Love the idea of the flakey sea salt too! Great idea! Happiest of New Year to you and your family! πŸ™‚

  2. Bringing this to Thanksgiving. Aldi has a sun-dried tomato pesto that we really like instead of traditional pesto. Also, my 9 year old loved helping make this app. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Hello, I would like to know how your TARTE AU SOLEIL WITH PESTO holds up during an afternoon party? Thank you!

  4. My family loves this! They won’t even let me take it off the baking sheet! It’s gone in 5 mins! Thank you!

  5. Your Boursin cheese and smoked salmon sounds delicious. Would you have to be careful with the amount you place on the puff pastry? Thanks for an amazing blog.

  6. Made the Tarte au Soleil for the first time today for a family gathering. I was absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out and it looked so impressive. I used red pesto and cream cheese for the filling. I also mixed the left over pastry with Red Leicester cheese and made cheese straws. Thank you very much for a great recipe

    1. Oh I love that idea! Sounds great! I'm so glad it was such a hit! Now you must try a sweet variety next πŸ™‚ Great with Nutella or cream cheese and jam! Hope you enjoy!

  7. I made this for a New Year’s eve party using Pepperidge farm puff pastry sheets. And while it tasted great because I made it with the Nutella as a dessert, it did not look as nice as yours. What brand of puff pastry did you use, if I’m not mistaken yours looked larger and not like Pepperidge farm puff pastry. I am definitely going to make this for our annual women’s retreat in May, I’m always looking for great recipes to share with the ladies since I do all the cooking.

    1. Ah OK yes it really is all about the puff pastry brand for this one. I use Trader Joe's puff pastry brand for this one because it comes as a flat sheet with no scoring. BUT it isn't available year-round πŸ™ they only stock it during holidays and sometimes in the summer months. My next choice would be the Wewalka Brand that's an amazing puff pastry brand too! It works really well for delicate things like my ham and cheese croissants, apple pastries or cinnamon buns! Hope you enjoy!

  8. I just found your site "par hasard". Reading through some of your recipes, it sent me into orbit, Your are very talented and so easy and down to earth to follow your recipes. For that thank you for I have been following few folks that are merely performing and give you some recipes that require a basic "phd" in culinary.
    I will be trying your taste au soleil, Fig and brie braid and end my performance with your goat cheese tartlets. Don't worry, I give all the due credit to you.

    1. Ha! Oh I'm so glad you found me πŸ™‚ Thanks for your sweet comments! Those are all my favorite appetizers and I'm sure they'll be a big hit! Keep me posted on how they turn out! Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

  9. I made a little bit different version of this. My brother-in-law loves apple pie, so for Thanksgiving last year I made this with apple filling and sprinkled it with powdered sugar after it baked. What a hit! Thanks so much for all of you delicious ideas!

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  20. This is a fabulous recipe. I made it for Thanksgiving and then as an appetizer for my cooking club meeting. They were very impressed. It's easy, delicious, and gorgeous. Thank you so much.

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