Garden To Kitchen: Caramelized Onion Tart
There are no words to describe the deliciousness of this. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the Puff Pastry, for which my better judgement has been temporarily abandoned. We’re not perfect. (But this tart is.) Onions are in season year-round, depending on the variety, so you can enjoy this any time of year. I served it the other night alongside roasted cauliflower & garlic soup — it was a great combo for a cold evening. Buen provecho!*
Onions are the star of this show, but each of the other flavors — thyme, prosciutto, honey, balsamic vinegar — plays a subtle yet important role.
I’m not fan of pork as a main course, but I find that using it sparingly — like a couple of paper-thin slices of prosciutto — can really enhance the other flavors in a dish.
While the prosciutto is cooking, cut the onions into 1/4 inch slices. I use a combo of Vidalia and red onions — Vidalia for sweetness, and red for depth of flavor.
Cook the onions over a medium heat until they’re translucent and softened, stirring regularly so they don’t burn.
My friend Ann Marie gave me raw honey to try earlier this year, and now I’m hooked. It seems odd at first because it’s much thicker than the honey you see in most stores, but once you’re used to the consistency, it’s well worth it. It is unprocessed, which means higher nutritional value, more powerful antioxidants, and richer flavor.
Thyme is one of the most hardy herbs, capable of surviving brutal winters. This sprig is from a bush that has been growing in my patio for eight years, and it’s still super flavorful.
You’ll know the onions are ready when they’re really soft and dark brown (but not burned). The natural sugar in the honey helps them to caramelize, and the vinegar gives them a tangy punch.
SIDE NOTE: At this point, you could transfer this onion mixture to a pot, add some vegetable broth, and you’d have a delicious French Onion Soup to top with toasted bread and swiss cheese. So excellent on a cold winter day. Or you can proceed ahead with the tart recipe, as follows…
It goes into the oven looking like this…
… and comes out looking like this. I don’t trim the edges of the pastry or fuss about crimping them — I think the rustic look makes it even more appealing.
And voila, caramelized onion tart, with a hint of prosciutto and thyme — perfect for an autumn meal.
ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: I sometimes vary this recipe and add goat cheese — and as you might imagine, it is even more rich, savory and delicious. If you want to include cheese, just crumble it into the onion mixture or spread it on the pastry shell before adding the onions, then bake it as planned.
Caramelized Onion Tart
Prosciutto (or bacon)
Olive Oil & Butter
Onions (sweet Vidalia and/or red — I use a combination)
Honey (I use raw, but regular works just fine)
Puff Pastry (cold)
Goat Cheese (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil in a pan and cook the prosciutto over a medium heat, until it’s crispy and brown, then remove it from the pan to cool. While the prosciutto is cooking, cut the onions into about 1/4″ slices. Add the onions to the pan with a little more olive oil and a dab of butter. Cook the onions over a medium heat until they’re translucent and slightly softened, stirring regularly so they don’t burn — about 15 minutes. Add the honey, vinegar and thyme to the onions, increase the heat to high, and cook a few minutes longer until the onions darken to a deep brown and are very soft. Set them aside to cool. Now take the puff pastry from the fridge, fit it into a pie or tart pan, and poke the bottom with a fork a few times. (If you want to include goat cheese, now is the time to do it — just crumble or spread it on the pastry shell.) Pour the onion mixture into the pastry, sprinkle it with crumbled prosciutto and thyme, then pop it into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Serve warm. Eat. Love.
* Buen Provecho: This is a beautiful saying we learned in Ecuador when we were adopting our son. There’s not a good literal translation from Spanish to English, because the loose translation — “Enjoy your meal” — doesn’t capture the full essence of the Spanish meaning. The verb “aprovechar” means to make the most of, or to receive the full benefit of something. Thus, when we say, “buen provecho,” it is offering our hope that the eater will receive the full benefits and advantages of the food we’ve prepared. And that’s my wish for my friends and family when I cook for them — that they will receive all the goodness the food offers.
** You’ll see that I often don’t designate specific quantities and measurements in my recipes. I do this because you know better than I do how much food your family needs and what your tastes are. Cooking isn’t an exact science, anyway — it’s more of an art. (Baking is another story — it actually is science — so I include measurements for my baking recipes.) So use whatever quantity you’d like, make changes to suit your tastes, and substitute ingredients to reflect what’s fresh in the garden and what’s available in your kitchen.