Sunday, March 22, 2009

Goat Cheese and Onion Tart

This Goat Cheese and Onion Tart recipe makes me think of fancy appetizers at a dinner party. I made it a solo dinner one night - either way it's a winner and a recipe that I WILL be repeating again - maybe using the same ingredients...but probably not.

Now that I have freezer space I've stocked up on a few more staples that I always wanted to have on hand. One of those being puff pastry! I once read a message board where cooks talked about what one thing they would rather buy than make from scratch. The number one answer was puff pastry! Now I have at least one box in my freezer at all times, the only trick is that you have to sort of plan when you are going to use it since the only way to thaw it is by letting it sit on the counter for an hour.

I'm trying to remember how I first came to find this recipe, it's from Ina, who I think is a I probably watched one of her cooking shows where she made this and then I couldn't get the recipe out of my head and then HAD to make it one night. The ingredients are fairly simple, I did make a special trip to the grocery store for goat cheese. Jim and I both love goat cheese so as soon as I pay $4 for a little 2 ounce container it's gone before I know it.

Here is what you need for Ina's Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart. I only used one sheet of puff pastry and made two tarts, Ina's recipe makes 4 tarts.

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Once the pastry was defrosted, I first cleaned my counter and then sprinkled it with some flour.

Ina says to roll out the puff pastry to a 11 x 11 inch square. I'm not one to follow directions exactly so I rolled it big enough to get two five inch rounds cut out of it. And I knew I would have to move the dough once it was cut, so it couldn't be so thin that it stretched or tore - I left mine thin, but not paper thin.

Just use what you have in your kitchen. Here I have two of my every day bowls from Pier 1 that I flipped upside down and used as guides to cut circles in the pastry. And in case you were wondering, I delicately folded up the unused dough, wrapped in saran wrap and put back in the freezer. I have lots of ideas on what to do with the scraps. I could brush them with butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake sweet chips! I could spray with Pam, sprinkle with parmesan and bake to make a yummy dipper for hummus. And for those who think hummus is gross, it's only bean dip!

I love this tidbit from Ina! I used a cup that was about two inches smaller in diameter to make an indention in the pastry. You don't want it cut all the way through, just score the round pastry.

Now, prick the inside of the inner circle with the tines of a fork. This will ensure the outside "puffs" and the inside stays nice and flat.

Place the pastry circles on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now here is a cool tidbit from Mandy! When grapes go on special, buy some for your freezer. My mother used to call these "God's Popsicles" when I was growing up. Next time you are drinking wine that may not be cold enough or a white wine you want to STAY cold, drop a few grapes in your glass.

These frozen grapes act like ice without diluting the vino!

Back to the tart. I really like caramelized onions because the low and slow cooking process brings out all the natural sugars in the onion and they become sweet and sticky with a beautiful brown color. I wanted to slice these onions pretty thin, so I used a mandolin. I found this one at Sur la Table for less than $20 and it folds flat for kitchens with limited storage like mine. I fell in love with the lime green - it matches my kitchen decor. You could also slice these onions by hand, it may just be tricky to get them this thin, but even thicker slices of onion will caramelize well.

I used my cast iron skillet to cook the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Low and slow is key here. It should take 15-20 minutes to get them right, so if the heat is too high then the onions will simply burn, so keep the heat on medium low.

There is the garlic! I added about one minced clove to the onions when they were half way done. I didn't want the garlic to brown and get hard and bitter, but slowly heat up with the onions.

Just because I felt like it, I added a pinch of Italian seasoning.

And a pinch of salt and pepper too - for good measure.

When the onions were about done, I added a tablespoon of white wine and then scrapped up the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Heat off, onions are done.

To the puff pastry, I built the tart by starting with some Parmesan shavings on the bottom - keeping all ingredients inside my scored inner circle.

Next, add a heap of caramelized onions.

Now for the goat cheese. Just a few pinches here and there.

Instead of slicing a whole tomato, I used a can of mexican style diced tomatoes and strained a spoonful from the can.

Delicately place that on top of the savory mound.

Finish it all off with more Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

I thought the goat cheese would really make this tart something special, but the onions and the parmesan really stole the show here. The seasoning added to the onions made them extra yummy. I will make this again, but probably not make a special trip to the store for any ingredients, but simply use the method Ina did and incorporate ingredients I have on hand.

I would like to try making a tart with pulled pork and cheddar cheese or roasted chicken and kalamata olives topped with a sprinkle of parmesan. What about the sweet tarts? You could layer pears with blue cheese and finish it off with a drizzle of honey and walnuts. Is your mouth watering yet?


  1. Yes, mouth is watering! Great tips on the puff pastry; thank you!

    And who are these people you mentioned who don't like hummus? Maybe it's just the name scaring them. I could eat it by the truckload! ;)

  2. This is perfect. I don't eat much meat so rich and savory is my mantra. I also had no idea about pricking the inner circle, thanks for the tip. And I am cooking for guests next week with 4 different food limitations so this may be a possibility but with less cheese for one of them.

  3. The only thing that is wrong with you picture is that I wanted to eat it!!!!!
    First off ... Hummus, everybody needs to eat this gem ... daily!
    Second ... Thank you for this yummy edition ... looks like we are having this for dinner tonight!

  4. I make this as well....with mini cupcake tins...we don't use tomatoes, just carmelized onions and goat cheese...perfect appetizer for parties! Thanks for posting, looks fantastic!

  5. YUMMY is all I have to say!!!!


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