Crab, leek and cheese tartlets

Crab, leek and cheese tartlets

Considered a slightly controversial combination, there is a certain stigma about putting cheese and seafood together. In fact many Italians believe the pairing is punishable by death or an even worse fate – going hungry!

Italian culinary doctrine – a constitution held up by Italian home matriarchs where infractions can be punishable by no supper or death – is very clear on the subject. Cheese and seafood shall not be mixed. Ever.

Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord,

However when it’s done well it can make for a really successful pairing. In fact you only have to look at tried and tested classic dishes like a salmon and cream cheese bagel or the decadent marriage of lobster meat and Gruyere cheese in a Lobster Thermidor to realise that rules were made to be broken!

In this simple recipe, it’s the light citrusy flavours of this creamy and crumbly Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese that cut through the richness of the crab meat. The addition of creme fraiche, lemon and tarragon bring a lightness to these little tartlets that marry perfectly with the aniseed and peppery notes in the fennel and rocket salad.

We enjoyed these as light main meal with the salad, but these tartlets would make the perfect lunchtime treat as they’re just as good hot or cold. They would work equally well as a canapé with a nice glass of fizz and because they take little time to make they’re a simple addition to any dinner party menu. 

Crab, leek and cheese tartlets

Delicate and light, these little tartlets are super easy to make and are perfect for light dinner or lunch and make great canapés. This recipe makes 12 tartlets
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack, Starter
Cuisine: british, French
Keyword: caerphilly, cheese, crab, tart, tartlett
Servings: 4 people


  • 12 hole bun tray
  • 8cm cookie cutter


For the tartlets

  • 1 sheet shortcrust pastry you will have some pastry left over
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 leek finely chopped
  • 30 g Gorwydd Caerphilly cheese grated
  • 1 dressed crab white and brown meat
  • 30 g creme fraiche
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp tarragon finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • Bag of rocket
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6
  • Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and leek and cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  • Add the crab, creme fraiche, lemon juice and zest, cheese and tarragon and heat gently for a few minutes until everything is combined and warmed through.
  • Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning as required.
  • Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut 12 discs out of the pastry using an 8cm cookie cutter.
  • Add each of the pastry discs to a 12 hole bun tray, pressing the pastry down into the holes. Prick the bottom of the pastry a few times with a fork, this allows the steam to escape from the pastry as it’s baking and stops it from puffing up in the oven.
  • Divide the crab and cheese mixture between each of the pastry cases and brush the edges of the pastry with a little olive oil.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.
  • While the tarts are cooking make the salad by slicing the fennel very thinly (you could use a mandolin for this but a sharp knife works just as well and is less dangerous). Add to a bowl with the rocket, olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Toss the salad to ensure everything is combined.
  • To serve, add the tartlets to a plate and serve the salad alongside. This would work as a starter for four people or a light meal for three.

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