Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Caramelized Onion Tart with Blue Cheese and Whole Wheat Crust

I love savory tarts! The buttery homemade crust makes them taste rich, and the vegetable fillings are replete with flavor and nutrition. A simple slice on a plate with lightly dressed greens or crisp roasted vegetables is such an elegant meal that feels very European to me. In the way that the frittata carries an element of breakfast over to lunch and dinner, so the savory tart brings a little intimation of dessert to those main meals. And that certainly can’t be a bad thing.

I think I say this about a lot of things on this blog, but savory tarts really are easy to make, considering the elegant results. After you do your first tart, it will become second nature. The crust is a snap and involves far less stress than pie crust, in my opinion; keep it quick and cold, and you’re set.

This tart recipe comes from the February issue of Food & Wine. There was no picture in the magazine, but I didn’t need one. The name and ingredients were more than enough to appeal to my tastes. I have recently discovered that taking the time to truly caramelize onions—I mean a good 30-35 minutes—produces insanely good results, as you will see if you give this a try. I was surprised and happy to see that the recipe’s creator, chef Dede Sampson, used all whole wheat flour to make this crust, and I was anxious to see how it would turn out (for the record: crisp, buttery and warmly wheaty).

I can honestly say that we loved eating this and savored every bite. I was sad to eat the last piece, but I know I can make it again soon! The recipe is a winner for the crust alone, but the sweet onion filling dotted with mild, creamy blue cheese and hits of fresh thyme was utterly delicious too.

I have been in a baking mood lately, so I have another wonderful, but very different, savory tart in the blogging pipeline. And I think there will be more where these came from!

Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Tart with Whole Wheat Crust
Adapted from Food & Wine and Dede Sampson
You can make the dough for the crust up to one day ahead and leave it in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic. Then, roll it out and pre-bake the shell while the onions caramelize. You can make the whole tart up to four hours ahead and serve it at room temperature or reheat in a 350 degree oven. I recommend eating the leftovers at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6; 8 as a first course

1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
½ tsp. salt, plus additional to taste
1 stick (4 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch dice
¼ c. water chilled with ice

2-3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 medium onions (about 1 ½ lbs), sliced into half moons (I used 2 red and 2 sweet onions, but any combination will work)
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground pepper
3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (I used a creamy Danish blue, brand name Rosenborg)

In a food processor, pulse the flour and ½ tsp. salt to combine. Add the cold, diced butter and pulse until you have a coarse mixture roughly the size of small peas. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture, then pulse again until the dough just starts to come together. It will still look a little scraggly.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and quickly pat it into a disk. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally until soft and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook until lightly browned, soft and sweet, about 10-15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the thyme and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface to a large, 12-13 inch circle. You will have to use some muscle to roll it out, and do not worry about getting a perfect circle. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick and as even as possible. Roll the dough over the pin and lay it into a nonstick (9, 10 or 11-inch) fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides of the pan with your knuckles and peel off the pieces that hang over the pan and use them to patch any holes. Your crust may not look pretty now, but it will when the tart is done. Prick the base of the crust all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. I place my tart pan on a large baking sheet to make it easier to handle.

Fill the pre-baked tart shell with the caramelized onions. Strew the crumbled blue cheese all over the onions. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese is lightly melted. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, remove from tart pan and serve immediately. Can also be served at room temperature.

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rachel said...

That looks fabulous! I'm always look for more ways to incorporate blue cheese. It must be fabulous with the carmelized onions.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Isn't it fun how you start out with a huge pile of the onions and they cook way down, almost like spinach.
Blue Cheese and caramelized onion, sooooo goooooood!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Julie, what a fantastic tart!

I love the combination of flavors - those asparagus look delicious, too, just for the record - and I've never thought of making whole wheat crust.

Tks for sharing this recipe, it's amazing!

Kalyn said...

I agree, it looks wonderful!

ThursdayNext said...

I love that you used two red and two sweet...do you think this will work with all sweet onions? Vidalias are my Achilles heel! :)

Rachel said...

Beautiful! I love caramelized onions

Kristen said...

I love caramelized onions... love the looks of this recipe.

Julie said...

Rachel: yes, this is a perfect combo.
Tanna: I could barely fit all the onions in the skillet when I started, but they do cook down a lot. Still, it's plenty to fill the tart shell.
Patricia: try it! You can substitute up to half whole wheat flour for the white in virtually any recipe. I loved that this had no white flour at all and still tasted flaky and rich.
Kalyn: Thanks!
Thursday: You could definitely use all sweet onions; use any kind you like!
Rachel & Kristen: Thanks for your comments!

Peabody said...

The whole wheat crust makes it healthy :)...so I can eat more of it.

Anonymous said...

As wierd as this is going to sound I made a caramelized onion with blue cheese the very same day that you made yours... However, mine was not quite photogenic, at least it was well too burnt to write about... yours looks like mine was supposed to look! Well done!

Andreea said...

this is fantastic. i have a dinner in a couple of weeks, with one vegetarian. was looking for something that would be attractive and delivious at the same time. guess i fount it now :)

zehra said...

well i finally made it and although i messed up the crust, it was delicious. i love the flavors, the thyme, the onions, the whole wheat, so yummy! i will definitely remake it and try different fillings, too.

Julie said...

Zehra: I'm glad it was still delicious! If you email me about the crust maybe I can help. Sometimes you just need to get the hang of it. Thanks for your comment!

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