It’s been soggy and chilly recently in my neck of the woods, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love the spring rain. LOVE.
Our first farmers market started last week and people were running for cover in a spontaneous downpour with their fresh cheeses and honey, rosy apricots, radishes, rhubarb, English peas, strawberries and tender lettuces.
I begged the guy at the bakery stall for a loaf of his fresh rye bread, dreaming of it toasted and slathered with smashed California avocado, a drizzle of local olive oil and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.
Oh man. Just typing that makes me hungry. I could eat it every day.
I grabbed a big handful of beautiful spring onions – a mellow tasting variety that’s available in most markets now.
I debated how to prepare them, and decided on a savory tart with parmesan cheese and fresh thyme. Just perfect for this time of year.
First you make a flaky tart crust – pretty easy as it’s pressed in the pan lightly with your fingers.
The crust rests a bit in the fridge, then it’s baked in the oven, giving you time for chopping onions, grating cheese, cracking eggs and measuring cream. It’s totally worth the calories, I promise.
Don’t let the pie weights scare you, or dried beans work just as well. There are a few steps in this recipe, but you’ll thank me later.
This is a great example of how a few simple ingredients you probably already have on hand can turn into a really satisfying – and pretty – appetizer or light meal.
It’s versatile too – excellent with a crisp salad for lunch, at home on a brunch buffet, satisfying with a bowl of fruit for breakfast or divine served on a wooden board with a glass of something cold as a rustic appetizer.
Nothing beats the deep and savory flavor of this tart that highlights onions, cheese and fresh thyme.
- Note: Yellow white, spring onions or leeks work best in this tart. Use a 9" tinned-steel tart pan, or a 14" rectangular tinned tart pan with removable bottom plus an 8" tinned round tart pan with removable bottom to make two smaller tarts. This will serve 6-8.
- CRUST INGREDIENTS
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
- 2-3 tbsp ice water
- FILLING INGREDIENTS
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 1/2 pounds onions halved through the root and cut crosswise into 1/4 dice
- 1 tsp. fresh garlic chopped fine
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 springs fresh thyme with leaves removed from stem
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese or combination of both
- FOR THE CRUST
- Spray tart pan or pans with vegetable oil spray.
- In a food processor, pulse flour and sugar several times. Add the cold butter and continue to pulse until combined. You want the mixture to resemble coarse sand which is about 15 pulses on your processor. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until mixture starts to clump together in a large ball. Its okay to add up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if needed. Transfer the dough to tart pan (s), patting it in place with your fingers, including up the sides of the pan. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough, smoothing out any lumps with your fingers as you go. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375, Place the frozen tart shell (s) on a baking sheet, and line each tart with a piece of parchment paper sprayed lightly with vegetable oil spray. Heavy aluminum foil sprayed with oil will work fine too. Press this against the dough and carefully up the sides of the tart pan, then fill with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 cups ). Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the dough no longer looks wet. Take out of the oven, and remove parchment paper or foil and pie weights or beans. Return the tart shell to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes, until lightly golden.
- FOR FILLING
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet. Add onions, garlic, salt and thyme - cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes on medium high heat - the onions will look soft and start to wilt. Cover and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking until very soft, about 20 minutes. If onions look wet after cooking for 15 minutes, remove lid and continue cooking until the water evaporates - about 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
- Mix together eggs, half-and -half, pepper and nutmeg with a whisk or fork until well combined. Add onion mixture to egg mixture, then stir in cheese. Spread onion mixture in the tart shell (s). You can sprinkle a little more thyme and parmesan if you like, the back into the oven to bake.
- TO BAKE
- With oven at 375, bake tart (s) on a baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove tart from pan and gently slide onto a serving plate. A thin spatula placed between the pan bottom and the crust helps if needed.
- Cut, serve and enjoy!
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated.