This is a twist on the classic tarte tatin, not made with fruit, but with onions—deliciously sweet red onions, to be precise—using more or less the same principle and technique. To go with my onion tarts, I have chosen goat cheese, which for me is the perfect partner, and I have also created these as individual tarts, which means they are ideal for serving for a first course or lunch, and make a fantastic dish to serve outdoors, sitting on your patio. My choice of accompaniment is fresh salad leaves, or a pea shoot or herb salad, either of which go well.
– PREPARATION TIME 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling.
– COOKING TIME 1 hour.
– 13 ounces bought puff pastry dough, thawed if frozen.
– all-purpose flour, for dusting.
– 1 cup superfine sugar.
– ½ teaspoon lemon juice.
– 4 thyme sprigs.
– 6 red onions, peeled, root trimmed to the level of the base and cut into quarters.
– 1 egg, lightly beaten.
– 3½ ounces soft goat cheese log, such at Ste. Maure, rind removed.
– 1 teaspoon black onion seeds.
– 4 handfuls pea shoots.
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat the oven to 315°F. Melt the sugar, lemon juice and 5 tablespoons water in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Increase the heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes until it turns into a rich golden brown caramel. Divide into four 6-inch nonstick cake pans or baking dishes. Put a thyme sprig in the middle of each pan, then put the red onion quarters, rounded-side down, into the caramel; there should be 6 quarters in each pan. Bake 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn the oven up to 375°F.
Step 3: Take the cookie sheet out of the refrigerator and quickly and carefully put the dough on top of the onions, pushing the edges down into the side of the pans or dishes. Brush the tops with the egg wash. This needs to be done very quickly, or the dough will start to melt if you take too long. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the tops, then put the pans in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
Step 4: Remove the tarts from the oven and leave them to cool for a few minutes. Put an upside-down plate the same size or slightly larger than the tart on top of the first tart and, holding both the plate and pan, flip it over to unmold the tart onto the plate. Crumble the goat cheese over the top of the tart and sprinkle with the black onion seeds. Repeat with the remaining tarts.
Step 5: Toss the pea shoots with the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Serve the tarts as the cheese just starts to melt, with the pea shoot salad served separately.