French Onion Tart

Serves 6 to 8

The seedling of an idea for this recipe started while I was making cheddar cheese crackers for the kids. The thought occurred that it might be an interesting base for a tart crust.

As I wandered through the farmers' market later that day, in search of some "late winter" inspiration, a bunch of humble onions set the ball rolling. It was at the moment I knew I wanted to recreate the flavors of a French onion soup into my tart. While the directions seem long, it really does come together effortlessly, and well worth the time it takes to caramelize the onions.

In case you're wondering, the flour is local, from Farmer Ground Flour, the onions were from Rogowski Farm, the eggs from Grazin' Angus Acres, and the paprika from Ray Bradley—a nice nod to my local farmers indeed.

For the filling:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin

2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2/3 cups (2 ounces) Swiss cheese, shredded

For the Swiss cheese pastry crust:

3/4 cups (110 grams) whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup (3 ounces) Swiss cheese, shredded

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) very cold butter, shredded using a box grater

1 to 2 tablespoons cold seltzer

To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat as low as it can go without shutting off, and let cook until onions have cooked down and released a lot of their liquid, about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Add the flour, salt, and paprika to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix the dry ingredients. Add the cheese and butter, then pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of seltzer, pulse again until a rough ball of dough comes together. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add more seltzer 1 teaspoon at a time (you may not need the entire 2 tablespoons), and continue to pulse until you have a ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter, flatten and shape into a d

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. 

Remove cover from the pot of onions, raise heat to medium, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onions turn golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. When onions are golden and very tender, stir in the sherry vinegar. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a medium bowl.

Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll it into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Fold down sides of dough, leaving a 1-inch high crust.

To finish the filling, add the egg and cheese to the bowl with the onions. Stir to mix well. Pour mixture over the tart crust and spread to the edges using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.