Caramelized Red Onion and Fennel Tart

Caramelized Red Onion and Fennel Tart

Caramelizing onions softens their intensity and brings out their natural sweetness. For the best results, don’t overcrowd pan, or onions will steam, not caramelize. Longer is better; the 20 minutes suggested in this recipe is really the minimum. If you have time, go for 30 minutes or even longer. Serve with a bitter greens salad with pear tomatoes and black olives for a complete meal. 

Serves 8 to 10

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
2 large fennel bulbs, core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Dough for basic pie crust or gluten-free pie crust*
1 cup soft goat cheese or vegan cheese, crumbled
Diced red peppers (optional)

In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and stir to coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 20 minutes. (Be careful not to crowd or cover pan, which will interfere with caramelizing.)

  1. While onions are cookin
    g, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch tart pan or quiche pan with removable sides. Alternatively, lightly oil a 9-inch glass pie plate.
  2. Add fennel and rosemary to onions, and cook until fennel is tender, about 7 minutes longer. Stir in nutmeg and white pepper.
  3. While onions and fennel are cooking, roll out the pie dough to fit the pan without stretching dough, and place the crust in the pan. Pierce the bottom of the crust several times with a fork, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Sprinkle half the cheese over the crust. Spread the onion mixture evenly over crust, top with remaining cheese and diced red peppers if desired, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is golden.
  5. Remove from oven and let stand for 3 minutes.  Cut into wedges, transfer to individual serving plates, and serve warm or cold.

* For an easy shortcut, use store-bought pie crust dough or mix. Or make this simple, basic pie crust recipe:

Basic Pie Crust
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie crust

If you’re making the gluten-free version of this crust, be sure to choose a gluten-free flour blend designed for pie crusts; those that contain tapioca and/or arrowroot are usually best, or add your own. Be sure the butter or vegetable shortening is very cold; for best results, cut into small chunks and freeze while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter or palm shortening
Ice water as needed

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend.

2. Add the butter or shortening about 1 tablespoons at a time, pulsing after each addition, and processing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, combine ingredients in a large bowl and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to mix in the fats.)

3. Transfer dough to a large bowl and knead a few times until dough comes together, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

4. Turn dough onto a floured surface pat into a smooth round disc. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.


Image credit: swhite / 123RF Stock Photo