Tuesday 2 February 2010

Recipe: Onion Tart

Or, more accurately 'Pissaladière Nicoise' in this instance, and not to be confused with the version from Alsace, which omits the anchovies and olives, and is all the poorer for it. This is a dish which can be made using either shortcrust or phyllo pastry - and in the interests of low-carb dietary soundness the version given here uses phyllo. I have to say, though, that I probably actually prefer the version with shortcrust pastry, which acts as a better foil to the inevitable oiliness of the onion filling. The flavour, whichever type of pastry you use, is wonderful!

For two individual tarts.

Ingredients: 2 x 12"x6" sheets of Phyllo pastry; half an oz of Butter; a tablespoon of slivered almonds; 3 large Onions; 2 tablespoons Olive Oil; 1 teaspoon dried Thyme; Salt & Pepper; 5 fl oz White Wine; 2 Anchovy fillets; 2 stoned Black Olives, each sliced longitudinally in four; Goat Cheese (equivalent to a couple of tablespoons in volume).


1. Melt the Butter, and use it to brush the sheets of Phyllo. Cut each sheet into two squares, and use these to line double thickness two individual tart tins, distributing the slivered almonds on top of the first layer of Phyllo in each tin, and before adding the second layer of Phyllo. Bake for ten minutes in a 180 degree C oven, until crisp and brown. Set aside.

2. Peel and finely dice the Onions. Heat the Oil in a pan which has a good fitting lid. Add the chopped Onion to the Oil, along with the Thyme and light seasoning. Stir everything together, put the lid on the pan and sweat the Onion in the Oil over a low heat for about an hour, stirring regularly. At the end of this time, the Onion should have collapsed completely and just started to colour.

3. Add the wine to the Onion, raise the heat under the pan and cook, stirring constantly, to reduce the liquid almost to nothing. Check and adjust the seasoning.

4. Divide the Onion mixture between the two pastry shells. Slice each Anchovy fillet longitudinally and use the thin slices to make a cross on the surface of each tart. Divide the cheese so that there is a small piece in each quadrant on the top of each tart (these don't have to look beautiful at this stage, as they will melt anyway in the course of cooking), and top each piece of cheese with a quarter of a Black Olive.

5. Put the tarts back into the 180 degree oven, and bake for twenty minutes or so, until the cheese has started to melt and has begun to turn brown at the edges.

Allow to cool for at least five minutes before serving - the filling will be very hot when it first comes out of the oven.

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