We mentioned on Wednesday that we had an onion tart in our near future, but, what we didn’t say was that we weren’t going to make a tart based on our Alsace Onion Tartlets recipe. Instead, we decided to make a tart with some of the goat cheese that we get from Black Mesa Ranch through the Tucson CSA. It’s not that much different in terms of effort, but, we think it is in terms of flavor. Either is a great way to use a lot of onions quickly, but surprisingly, the tarts don’t taste onion-y. Want to try it for yourself? We’ll show you what we did in the Scratchin’ It Test Kitchen.
As you may know, we decided on another onion tart when we picked up seven more onions in our weekly CSA share. Sometimes it’s feast or famine when it comes to what we get, but we’ve learned to make do with what comes in each share. More importantly, we enjoy using everything we get, as we know it’s all high quality, locally and naturally grown, great-tasting produce, and we’re lucky to have such a resource for our food. If you’re interested in trying a CSA, you can check out Local Harvest; it’s how we found our CSA.
We often hear people say they don’t like goat cheese. When we ask why, they claim it’s just too goat-y. Now, we can partly agree with that. Some goat cheese is just too goat-y. We remember one place that had a blue cheese made with goat’s milk; it tasted like a barnyard. Ugh. If that had been our first experience with goat cheese, it would also have been the last. But, not all goat cheese is like that; some is quite good — creamy, slightly tangy, smooth, and rich. That’s the sort of goat cheese you want to look for. We use Black Mesa Ranch goat cheese, because it tastes great, is (relatively) local, and we’ve met the goats and seen that they’re treated well. The other thing we’re adamant about is the eggs: they should be from happy pastured hens that get to peck and scratch, and act like hens, such as those at Josh’s Foraging Fowls. Whether eggs or cheese, look for something similar where you live, so you can be happy with the product while supporting your neighbors.
Procedure in detail:
Roll crust. We used a 4×13-inch tart pan, but you could also use a 9-inch tart pan, a quiche pan, or even a pie pan. Whatever you use, roll the crust out and fit it into the pan, trimming the edges. Once in place, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, all the way through the crust. Known as docking, presumably because it “docks,” or ties, the top of the crust to the bottom, reducing puffing of the crust while baking.
Freeze. Place the crust in the freezer for about 30 minutes to freeze completely. This also helps the crust bake without puffing.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Blind bake crust. Remove the crust from the freezer, line with parchment, and fill with pie weights. You can buy pie weights, or you can use dried rice, or dried beans, or even clean pea gravel. You just need something that’s oven-safe to press down the crust. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or long enough so the crust looks dry when you peek under the parchment. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and continue baking until golden brown, about another 20 minutes. Remove and let cool, but no need to turn off the oven, yet.
Saute onions. Cut onions in half, then into thin slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions, sprinkle with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and pepper (a couple good grinds, or 1/8 teaspoon), and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to wilt, five minutes. Place the lid on the pan and continue to cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until the onions start to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Make custard. To make the custard, simply whisk together the goat cheese, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/8 teaspoon pepper, thyme (we like to crush it first to break it up), and nutmeg. Keep whisking until nice and smooth and all the lumps of cheese are incorporated.
Add onions. Now that the onions are cool — so they don’t start cooking the custard — stir them into the custard.
Fill and bake. Scoop the filling into the blind-baked crust, smoothing a bit across the top, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. If you have leftover custard — we did — simply lightly butter a couple of ramekins or custard cups and fill 3/4 full with the excess. Place everything on a rimmed baking sheet to catch spills and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Serve. If you use a tart pan with a removable bottom, you might as well show it off. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then carefully lift out the tart, including the bottom of the pan, and place on an appropriate plate, sliding out the bottom of the pan.
We loved this tart. It looked great in the rectangular pan, and having great-looking food is part of the experience of eating, making for a better meal. (That happens to be a skill we’re working on — plating food nicely.) Plus, the tart tasted great; we had some for dinner, and saved the rest for a lunch the next day, carefully heating it in the microwave in 30-60 second bursts so the crust wouldn’t get soggy, and it was perfect. Not too eggy, not too cheesy, and not very onion-y at all. A wonderful five stars.