The humble onion. Sitting in the background. Starting off every recipe but never given any credit. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Well, NO MORE. This is a recipe that makes the humble onion a star. A gorgeous, sticky, sweet star, nestled next to its supporting cast: a soft, salty Stilton and crumbly, buttery puff pastry.
This is not a quick recipe, but nor is it especially involved. One could quite easily set the onions going and then set about doing other things nearby – the washing up, folding laundry, a small dance, perhaps – returning periodically to give the onions a spuddle before returning to the dance.
It is, however, not a recipe one can rush. Caramelising onions takes time. Do not rush your onions.
For this reason, this meal tends to be one reserved for days off where the pace is a little slower and you want to savour the day. Days when you don’t want to rush anything.
(Unlike this photo, which was a little rushed because we just wanted to eat…#foodbloggerproblems)
You can, of course, make your own pastry. And if you do, not only will I admire you, but you can also run around saying you’ve made ‘A Rough Puff’, which is fun to do. If you are so inclined, I would direct you to this video. For now though, I’m sticking to shop bought.
Serves 2 hungry (greedy?) adults, or 3 less hungry
- 4 large red onions, or 6 small ones
- a good glug of oil
- a tablespoon of butter
- a garlic clove
- a small glass of red wine
- a tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 200g ready made, ready rolled puff pastry (or buy a block and roll it out yourself – it’s more economical that way)
- 60g stilton or other blue cheese
- salt and pepper
- to garnish: a few basil or parsley leaves, fresh rosemary or walnuts (entirely optional, but nice if you have them in)
- Peel your onions, chop off the root and top, then slice them through the middle. Slice them as finely as you can, so that when the layers are separated they look like little crescents. (Don’t worry if you cry, you’ll be adding salt anyway.)
- Heat a good glug (3tbsps) of olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat.
- Add the onions to the pan, coat them in the oil and butter. Add a pinch of salt.
- Turn the heat right down and cook the onions ever so gently, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Do not rush your onions (this is when you can do the washing up or a little dance. Don’t go too far away though because you need to make sure they don’t catch or burn)
- After 30 mins they should have shrunk and they should be glossy and a little sticky.
- Finely slice or press a clove of garlic and add this to the pan, giving a little stir. Continue to cook on this low heat for a further 5 mins.
- Now for the fun bit: turn up the heat to a medium heat. Throw in your small glass of red wine and balsamic vinegar. Give it a good stir and watch while the onions drink it all up. (You’ve just deglazed a pan. Get you!)
- Once it’s all drunk up, turn the heat off entirely.
- Preheat your oven to 180’C.
- Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil and lightly brushing the foil with oil.
- If you are using a block of pastry, roll it out now into the shape you want your tart to be. I make mine a rectangle, if only because my baking tray is a rectangle and ready-rolled pastry is too. But you can do it in a circle. Or a triangle. Or go off-piste entirely. There are no rules.
- We’re going to make the tart upside-down. So arrange your onions on the prepared baking tray, remembering to leave a border that will form your crust.
- Crumble and evenly distribute about two thirds of your cheese over your onions.
- Now lie your pastry over your onions and cheese so that it covers them and leaves a little border for a crust. You might want to tuck your edges in a little bit.
- Pop it in the oven, with the pastry on the top for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden and beautiful.
- When cooked, remove the tart from the oven. Carefully (use an oven glove or a teatowel) lightly put a chopping board on top of the pastry and then turn it all over (so the board is underneath and the baking tray on top).
- Lie the board on a flat surface and carefully remove the baking tray.
- Some of the onions might be stuck on the foil – that’s no big deal, just gently scrape them off and put them back on the tart.
- Top with the remaining cheese and garnishes of your choice!