I know you’re probably all up in the long holiday weekend, what with your grilling and beer-ing and what not. But this savory tart went down in my kitchen last night and just about blew my dang mind. And because we are friends, I just had to tell you all about it on the ASAP. Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart, darlings. Have yourself a super-fancy Labor Day weekend, won’t you?
I know we’ve talked about how I’m a sucker for savory baking. It makes me feel extra capable and fills the house with a fragrance that rivals that of baking brownies. Also, savory baked goods are a more logical pairing with wine. (That last sentence is sort of my gauge of what’s worth doing in life.) Now, this is not to say that I haven’t (often) paired cake with a chilly glass of Champers, but sometimes it’s just nice to do things a little more predictably. It makes me feel like I’ve got my act together. It’s the little things.
Speaking of ladies who have their act together, let’s talk about the lovelies behind the positively genius blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen and their recently published cookbook that so perfectly encapsulates their whole awesome thing. In the Small Kitchen is at once charming, informative and the sort of book that propels you to the kitchen to rethink dinner. You also will probably really want to be BFFs with Cara and Phoebe by the time you read a few pages–like, an urge to throw a slumber party and braid each other’s hair sort of thing. In fact, so charmed am I by the authors and the vibe of their book that it tempers my envy of the fact that Ina Garten wrote their foreward. And that’s major.
The ladies call their recipe “Sexy-Ugly Onion Tart”, but I put a few twists on their recipe, and to me, it’s alllll sexy, baby. You know what else? I loved how perfectly the whole thing came together. That’s the test of a great baking recipe, I think, when you can put your own spin on it and it still comes out well. I put in some bacon, but why not bits of sausage, or roast chicken? Cut the onion back to one instead of two and you can make room for spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms…DREAM BIG, my friends.
And it’s easy, easy, easy. You could totally assemble this ahead and bake it off for a simple dinner, fancy lunch. Made in tinier tartlet form, I can’t think of a better dinner party appetizer. Blow minds at brunch. Whatever. Just make this, and invite me. I’ll bring the wine and the scrunchies.
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart
Adapted from Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine’s In the Small Kitchen
The original recipe is a bit simpler than my version–just onions and thyme, no garlic, bacon or Parmesan–and I’m positive it would still be delicious. But this spin on it was really something. I also opted to parbake the crust before filling it, and I’m glad I did.
Of course you can use a store-bought pie crust, but why not make your own? You can totally do it!
Serves 6 to 8
1 10-inch pie crust (like My Favorite Pie Crust)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.
In a large skillet or dutch oven set over medium heat, melt the butter. Toss in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized–this can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your stove. Have a glass of water standing by; add a tablespoon or so of water as needed to keep everything moist and prevent burning. When the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the onions onto a plate to cool. Wipe out the skillet and place back on the heat.
Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper toweling and let drain and cool.
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Set the tart pan on a large baking sheet. Bake the crust just until it begins to look dry all over, about 10 minutes. If it bubbles up a bit in spots, just press down the bubbles with a spatula.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg yolk and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in half the onions and half the bacon. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the parbaked crust. Spread the remaining onions over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top.
Bake until the crust is golden on the edges and the ricotta filling is firm, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the tart cool in the pan before slicing. Garnish with a few more fresh thyme leaves. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
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