Before summer rears its hot, humid head, there are some winter dishes I’m not ready to bid adieu. While strolling the market a few months ago, I happened upon a pile of onions. Actually, it was more like tripped over them. Anyone who’s spent a winter season in the northeast knows January is the land of root vegetables and tubers.
On this particular trip I was looking for some savory tart inspiration, and the onions set off a light bulb. What if I could capture the flavor of a hearty, French onion soup, complete with the gooey, golden cheese-laced top. I went home, a sack of onions and fresh thyme in hand. A pit stop once I emerged from the train yielded a chunk of gruyere cheese. All of the other ingredients were in the pantry at home.
Well, that tart has gotten me into a bit of trouble now. See, I’m smitten with it, and the thought of saying goodbye is almost too hard to bear. Luckily it’s a nice compromise for the warmer weather on the horizon. Served with a salad, it makes for an oddly light meal. The flavor is intense, yet you don’t feel weighed down the way one would after eating a crock of traditional French onion soup.
And if you’re worried about heating up an already hot house as the temperatures outside rise, then take comfort in knowing it reheats amazingly well. Make this tart at night when the weather is cooler, and you’ll be more than eager to wake the next morning, knowing what’s in store for dinner.
French Onion Tart
Serves 6 to 8
For the filling:
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
For the Swiss cheese crust:
3/4 cup (110 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon hot 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