This is a savory shortbread recipe adapted from the original as printed in Food and Wine Magazine. It is richly flavored with tomato paste and fresh thyme leaves.
The original recipe calls for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is super tasty yet expensive. I make this with less expensive Parmesan cheese found at my local market and the flavor is still excellent. In addition, the original recipe calls for a wonderful gremolata topping. I like to eat these right out of the oven as is – no topping at all! If you serve these as an appetizer and want to dress them up, top with thinly sliced cheese (of your choice), look up a gremolata recipe or top with my fresh kale-lemon topping.*
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 stick cold unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, tomato paste, sugar, cheese, thyme, salt, cayenne and black pepper until the tomato paste is evenly distributed. Cut in the butter and mix with your hands just until the dough starts to come together.
Scrape the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper) and roll it into an 8-inch log, 1½ inches in diameter. Place the wrapped log in the refrigerate and chill for at least an hour and a half.
When ready to bake, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the shortbread log into ¼ inch-thick rounds and arrange on the parchment paper. Bake for approximately 18 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Rotate the baking sheet from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the shortbreads to a wire rack to cool before serving.
* Fresh Kale-Lemon Topping
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves (minced)
2 pounds fresh kale
1 cup water
Fresh lemon juice
To prepare the kale, remove all stems and ribs. Slice remaining leaves into ¼-inch strips. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant – about 2 – 3 minutes. Add kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add water.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Watching the kale closely so it doesn’t burn, cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 6 – 8 minutes. Place a small amount of kale on top of each shortbread and finish by squeezing a few drops of fresh lemon juice on top of each. Serve immediately.
Note: You will have left over kale. If placed in a bowl and wrapped tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.