So I winged it. And luckily (and unlike some of my attempts) it was a huge hit. Sliced tart apples with caramelized onions and a bit of cheese are lovingly enfolded in pastry, making a perfect fall dish.
Do not be afraid of the pastry dough. Pastry dough is easy-peasy and takes all of 5 minutes to whip up if you are using a food processor and only minimally longer by hand.
Savory apple & onion tart (serves 4 - 6, easily)This is a wonderfully indulgent meal. We ate it hot for dinner and then cold for breakfast the next morning and loved it equally well both ways.
For the pastry: (pate brisee recipe from Martha Stewart)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
For the filling:
3 large tart apples
3 onions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used Parrano, a swiss variety)
:: Make your pastry dough. Put the flour and the salt in the food processor and pulse a few times. Add 1/2 of the butter and do a couple 5 second pulses. Add the rest of the butter and do a couple more 5 second pulses. (Adding the butter in two parts gives you some well incorporated butter and some larger pieces, which makes for a perfect, flaky consistency.) Add the water, a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition. The dough should come together very quickly. You need just enough water to form a dough. Remove your dough from the food processor and quickly shape it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge to chill.
:: Caramelize your onions. Toss them in a heavy bottomed pan with the olive oil and salt and cook over low heat approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden.
:: While the dough is chilling and the onions are cooking, peel and slice your apples. I use an apple peeler/slicer, which may be the greatest silly gadget ever. Having perfectly even slices ensures even cooking, but you can certainly do this by hand (as I did, for years).
:: Take the onions off the heat and toss them with the apples. Set aside.
:: Gently roll your dough into a large circle (approximately 12 - 13 inches in diameter for me). You don't have to roll it very thin for this recipe. It will still be almost 1/8 inch thick, as if you were going to cut cookies.
:: Lay the dough in some sort of pan. The edges will fall over the sides. I used a 10" tart pan, but you could use a large pie pan if that's what you have handy. Spread the filling out inside, sprinkle with your shredded cheese and then gently bring the edges over and towards the middle. (I can't figure out how to explain this, but take a look at the picture of the finished product and you will see that it is really easy.)
:: Bake in a 375 degree oven until the pastry is pale gold. It took about 45 minutes for me.
Next time, I'm going to try punching it up a notch and adding some chopped fresh rosemary or sage to the crust (add it with the flour and salt, if you want to try it), for some extra fall flavor.