Sunday, June 26, 2011

Onion Tart

Please. Bear with me. I know this blog is for ordinary people. People with jobs. People with families. People without much time on their hands.

People who think they don't have time to make tarts with dough from scratch.

But here's the thing. People who do just a bit of advance planning can serve up gourmet dishes for their ordinary families on an ordinary weeknight.

You can make the dough in advance. One recipe makes enough dough for two tarts. You can make both tarts at once (each one feeds about three people as a main dish), or you can put half in the fridge and use it later in the week. (I think it'll keep for 3-4 days although I haven't tried it for longer than two.)

You can cook up the onions ahead of time, too. You can drop some on the floor in your haste to get them done. Or not.

All that's left is to roll out the dough, assemble the tart and bake it.

Which can be done a couple of hours before dinner if you like. The tart is great at room temperature.

Promise me you'll try it. I'll feel better knowing that you will.

Onion Tart, adapted from The Art of Simple Food (If you don't own this cookbook, buy it NOW)
This recipe makes two tarts, each of which feeds about three people. If you prefer, you can make just half the amount of onions and reserve half the dough for another use. I plan to try some with fruit soon and will let you know how that goes. Oh, and if you're wondering if you can make this with margarine, please don't. The pure buttery taste is part of its magic.

The Dough
2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 sticks cold butter

The Topping
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large Vidalia onions, sliced thin
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves pulled off
30or so leaves of basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

First, make the dough. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the cold butter into small (1/4 inch or so) cubes. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips. When it's worked in and coarsely crumbly, slowly add about 3/4 of the ice water. Mix it in with a fork and then switch to mixing with your fingers. You'll want the dough to hold together. Add more water if you need to but you should not need more than 1/2 cup. Divide the dough in half, bring each dough together in a ball, and wrap each ball in an individual piece of saran wrap. Once wrapped, flatten each ball to make a disk. Refrigerate for at least an hour or as long as a few days.

Meanwhile, make the topping. In a heavy pot, preferably cast iron, combine the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Heat over a medium-low flame. Add the onions and thyme, and saute for about thirty minutes till cooked through and just beginning to caramelize. (Do not, under any circumstances, let it burn!) If the onions seem liquidy, pour of the liquid. Set aside to come to room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Chop the basil as fine as you can (or pulse it in mini food processor.) Mix it with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and parmesan and set the mixture aside at room temperature for up to an hour or in the fridge for up to 2 days.

When you're ready to assemble the tart, preheat the oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Don't forget this step. It's important.)

Flour a work surface and roll out the first dough disk into a 14-inch round. To move it from your work surface to your baking sheet, fold the round in half and then in quarters. This is a wonderful technique I learned from Alice Waters which has taken all the frustration out of rolling out pies.

Once the dough is on your baking sheet, spread it with half the basil/oil/parm mix, leaving a 1-inch border or so all around. Then spread half the onion mix over it. Finally, fold the border up over the onions.

Bake for about 45 minutes, till the crust is golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

This post was featured on Culinary Kosher!\


  1. Beautiful. I just bought some yummy smelling sweet onions from the farmer's market this morning,this tart is calling my name!

  2. I promise I'll try it! Looks beautiful and delicious.

  3. Love the rustic look of this tart. Looks delicious!

  4. This looks awesome but time-consuming! How do you find the time to cook so well - don't you work (and have a few kiddos as well...)

  5. I can't wait to try this recipe with fresh white onions we pick at the farm, looks fantastic!

  6. This is such a great recipe, you take the difficulty out of making dough! And, I love that you used parmesan as well! What if you added some broccoli and melted cheddar?

  7. I definitely need to get that cookbook! What a lovely recipe, and I love how simple you make it look. Onion tart is such a delicious dish. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. I can probably make this gluten free. It looks so delicious, that I want to try it.

  9. oh my goodness... i NEED this in my life.


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