In this less than summery weather we are having, I always think things like quiches and tarts are useful to have in your repertoire. If it’s cold and grey (as per London as I write this) they can be eaten with new potatoes and a vegetable and if (by some miracle), we have sun and warmth, you can make them early in the day while it’s cool and eat them at room temperature with salad. I was extolling their virtues amongst a group of friends recently and I was a bit taken aback when one said, somewhat accusingly, “well I suppose you’re bl**** WonderWoman and always make your own pastry”. Ha, if only….no, I don’t.
It isn’t my favourite kitchen activity and if I didn’t have a Magimix, I am not sure I would ever make pastry. I nearly always have some ready made pastry tucked away in the freezer and my favourite is the French brand Marie La Pâte Feuilletée Ready Rolled Puff Pastry (no, I am not being paid to mention this). Rather conveniently the ready rolled round perfectly fits a 24cm flan tin so given that I nearly always have the other ingredients to hand for a tart or quiche, this cuts out the (for me) tedious part of the recipe. I’ll be honest and say that I used this by mistake the first time – I overlooked the fact that it was puff pastry but now I actually prefer it for this recipe.
This recipe owes its genesis to Sybil Kapoor’s Onion Tart in her book ‘Simply Veg” published by Pavilion (and I urge you to buy it – fabulous recipes that always work). As is my habit, however, I have tweaked and experimented – not least by using puff pastry – to make something that fits our personal tastes and sometimes, just uses what I have. This version is, however, the one we prefer and appears regularly, warm or cold. It puffs up massively while cooking and then when cold, sinks back to something that almost looks slightly disappointing. Do ignore this little failing, as the flavour is deeply savoury and rewarding; it also travels well for picnics or packed lunches.
I like to use a well flavoured olive oil for this as it is reflected in the final flavour and I have been getting good results recently with the Greek brand Charisma which even Edoardo admits is a very good oil. If the budget runs to it, the French Roscoff pink onions are superb in this recipe – their subtle flavour really shines through but use what you have or can source well.
If you want to use shortcrust pastry, please do – and if you want to make your own, well that’s good too!
ONION AND THYME TARTPrint Recipe
- 1 packet Marie La Pâte Feuilletée Ready Rolled Puff Pastry or 170g shortcrust or puff pastry
- 60ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large or 3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with sea salt salt under the blade of a knife
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves, stripped from the branches (yes, I know it’s a pain but it’s worth it)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium eggs, well beaten
- 200 ml creme frâiche or soured cream
- 60g finely grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan and set a baking tray to heat
Line a 23/24cm flan tin with your chosen pastry
Prick the base and then line with baking parchment or greaseproof paper
Fill with baking beans and put on the heated baking tray to bake blind for 15 minutes
Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 - 7 minutes until the pastry is golden brown
While all this is going on in the oven, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a low to medium heat
Add the onions and garlic and fry gently for about 20 minutes; some colour is fine but we’re not looking for a high degree of browning here which would impair the fresh flavour
Add the thyme leaves and stir around to distribute evenly amongst the onions and garlic
Remove from the heat and seasonTransfer to the pastry case, spreading them evenly
Add the creme frâiche or soured cream to the beaten eggs, season well with freshly ground black pepper and add to the onions in the pastry case
I don’t add salt here as the Parmesan gives enough for our tastes
Gently mix it into the onion mixture being careful not to pierce the pastry which your not - so -Watchful Cook has done on one occasion
Sprinkle with the cheese and return to the oven, on the baking tray, for 25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown
Eat this warm (but not hot) or cold with salt or vegetables, depending on the weather!