This recipe is the dessert course of a 1-Hour Sicilian inspired 3-Course Valentine’s Day menu.  To see the complete menu and a detailed shopping list, visit this post!

Ever been to Sicily?  If you have, then you know pistachios are everywhere- especially in pastries and gelato.

Did you know that pistachios were first introduced to the Sicily via Middle Easterners in the 13th century?  It turns out eastern Sicily’s volcanic soil is optimal for growing pistachio trees.  Still grown on the island although on a smaller scale, sicilian pistachios are longer, thinner, and known for a stronger and sharper flavor than other varieties.  Most of the pistachios grown on the island are commercially incorporated into gelato and other commercially produced pastry  creams.  While pistachios themselves remain popular on the island and in cuisine, today most pistachios consumed on the island are imported from Iran.

Tarts are the perfect make-ahead dessert!  The flavor combos are almost endless, and the flavor threads in this menu give us lots of delicious options!  In the spirit of Sicilian authenticity, incorporating pistachios into the pastry was a must.  Shortbread crust is my favorite style of tart crust, so I made a buttery shortbread crust with chopped pistachios!  I included a total of three unifying flavors from the earlier courses:

  • Pistachios
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary

The hubs and I both love lemon desserts!  So lemon curd is infused with a hint of rosemary and mixed with a ricotta filling to create the most luscious and velvety lemon-ricotta tart you will ever taste!  Its quite honestly from the heavens.

Garnished with some chopped pistachios and rosemary sprigs, these little tarts are impressively beautiful while remaining exceptionally easy to execute.

While there are flavors that run throughout the meal, this meal also has a recurring vibe.  Decadence without heft.  Elements of richness and decadence are balanced by lighter, brighter elements.  Even though you may be indulging on a 3-course Valentine’s day feast, it won’t feel like a heavy meal.  It all comes to a beautiful culmination with these buttery, velvety, lemony tarts!

Don’t miss the complete 3-course menu!

Course 1


Course 2


Course 3

  • Lemon Ricotta and Pistachio Tarts


To complete menu details and the shopping list…

Remember!  If you make all or a component of this menu (Or, the Middle Eastern Inspired Valentine’s Menu!), you can be entered to win a Valentine’s themed surprise from a local Seattle artist!  Just post a pic of the dish to Instagram and tag @almostproperly!  I can’t wait to see what you make!

Lemon Ricotta and Pistachio Tarts

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Serving Size: 1 tart

Lemon Ricotta and Pistachio Tarts

    Pistachio Shortbread Crust:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, plus more for dusting pan
  • 4 tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1.5 tsp. egg yolk
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the Lemon Curd:
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp. beaten egg
  • 2.25 tsp. egg yolk
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • small sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1.5 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • For the Ricotta:
  • 1/4 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2.25 tsp. beaten egg
  • 1.5 tsp. egg white
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • To Garnish:
  • chopped pistachios
  • sprigs of rosemary
  • Special Equipment:
  • 4 - 4" tart tins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare four 4" tart pans by lightly greasing with butter and lightly dusting pan with sugar just until coated.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine pistachios, sugar, flour, and lemon zest. Add chilled and chopped butter. Use a pastry spatula or potato masher to work it into the dry ingredients. When pea sizes clumps form and butter is well worked into the dough, drizzle in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Use pastry spatula again to work through dough. Dough will be very dry and will NOT form a cohesive ball or true "dough" but should clump somewhat when you squeeze it in your hand.

Press dough into the prepared tart pans. Place tarts on large rimmed baking sheet.  Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for 6-8 minutes until set.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Reduce temperature to 375.

To make the lemon curd, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolk, egg, rosemary, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan.  Set sauce pan over over medium low heat and heat until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon while whisking constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter and strain curd mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard solids.

In a small bowl, whisk with a fork to combine ricotta and sugar.  Then whisk in egg, egg white, vanilla, and salt.

Use a spatula to add ricotta mixture to lemon curd.  Stir just until combined.  Divide lemon ricotta filling evenly amongst tart shells.  Rap tarts lightly on the counter to release air bubbles.  Place tarts on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Transfer baking sheet to the oven.  Watch carefully and bake for 4-5 minutes, until edges are just set.  Center will still tremble!

Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 1 hours.  Then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Remove from tart tins and garnish with chopped pistachios and additional sprigs of rosemary as desired. For best flavor and texture, remove from fridge 15-20 minutes prior to serving.


Total time includes chilling. Can be made up to 3 days prior to serving if stored and chilled in an airtight container.