This is the time of year when I start craving savory tarts. This vegetarian tart has vinegar-roasted onions, mushrooms, and ricotta cheese, making it a great appetizer for a group, or a dinner for two when served with a side salad. Why not? It's getting cold out there and sometimes you just need a dinner that feels like the food equivalent of sliding on a cashmere sweater: decadent and yet perfectly functional.
The recipe is loosely based on one by Suzanne Goin in her magnificent book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. It might sound a little complicated, but I promise it's not. As long as you have the ingredients on hand and some time to luxuriate in the kitchen, it's really not much of a challenge.
For mushrooms, you can use a mixture of varieties or stick with one. I like to combine the common cremini with some rehydrated dried porcini. For onions, try cipollini, sweet Vidalia, or standard yellow or purple onions.
Onion and Mushroom Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart
For the crust: 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling: 1 pound onions
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 large egg
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped chives or green onions
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
To make the dough, place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse. Drop in the butter and pulse until just barely the texture of oatmeal. Add the ice water slowly and pulse once or twice, until the dough clumps together. Turn onto a floured board and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and remove the root ends from the onions. Slice them in quarters and place in a pie dish or small roaster. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over top. Roast until the onions are soft and begin to color but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
While the onions are roasting, cook the mushrooms. Over medium heat, melt the butter. Add mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes until golden. Remove from the heat.
When pastry dough has chilled, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface to a circle roughly 12 inches in diameter. Gently transfer to a tart ring, and fit into the ring evenly. Pierce bottom with a fork and return to refrigerator to chill another 20 to 30 minutes.
Separate the egg and transfer the yolk to a small bowl; reserve the egg white for the topping. Mix the egg yolk, ricotta, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and chives. Remove the tart shell from refrigerator. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the bottom of the tart shell. Nestle the onions across ricotta base and scatter the mushrooms in between onions.
In another small bowl, beat the reserved egg white, heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Pour mixture evenly over top of onion and mushroom filling.
Cover the tart with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, until top is bubbling and crust is slightly brown, but not too dark.
Sprinkle chives over top before servings. Serve warm or at room temperature.