It seems strange that the first recipe I would try from my new book, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, would be a savory dish, but there you have it. A delicious savory dish, though, and one that I've already made twice.
But really, it's about as sweet as savory goes. There's the sweetness of the caramelized onions, the slightly different sweetness of the tomatoes (which I know I should not be buying in Vermont in December), both set off by the tangy saltiness of the cheese and the buttery goodness of the walnuts and the pastry.
adapted from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts
- 1 cup pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. (6 1/3 Tbs.) butter, cold
- 2-3 Tbs. water, very cold
- 2-3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
- generous handful walnut pieces, broken
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the pastry: Combine flour and salt. Cut butter into pieces and drop into flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter into flour until butter is well incorporated, but there are still visible pieces of butter. (Recipes often say, 'until mixture resembles small peas or coarse meal.') Using a fork, stir in water one tablespoon at a time, being careful not to add too much. When dough begins to from clumps, enough water has been added. Form the dough into a ball. The dough might be somewhat crumbly, but as long as you can make it into a ball it will be alright. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour before rolling.
- Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with butter. Allow to cook very gently, stirring occasionally, until onions have caramelized, anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. Don't try to hurry the process. When onions are golden, remove from pan, season with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out your dough and use it to line an 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Spread the cooled onions on the bottom of the tart shell all the way to the sides. Fold the edges of the pastry over the onions, creating a border. Place slices of tomato over the exposed onions and slightly overlapping the pastry border. Arrange most of the cheese on top of the tomatoes, then the walnuts, then the rest of the cheese.
- Bake anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on the type of pan used. A metal tart ring will require less cooking time than the ceramic dish I used. Serve warm or at room temperature, but not hot, hot.
Accompany with soup or salad. Delicious the next day topped with an over-easy egg.
I think this could make beautiful single serving tartlets, with just one slice of tomato on the top and a nice mound of cheese and walnuts (or maybe pecans next time). It seems a third go at onion tart is definitely in the cards for me.