This is the time of year when I start craving savory tarts. It’s cold outside, and sometimes you just need a dinner that feels like the food equivalent of sliding on a cashmere sweater: decadent, yet perfectly functional.
This vegetarian tart has vinegar-roasted onions, mushrooms and ricotta cheese, making it a great appetizer for a group, or a dinner for two when served with a side salad.
The recipe is loosely based on one by Suzanne Goin in her magnificent book “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” (Knopf, 2005). It might sound a little complicated, but I promise it’s not. As long as you have the ingredients on hand and some time to luxuriate in the kitchen, it’s not much of a challenge.
For mushrooms, you can use a mixture of varieties or stick with one. I like to combine the common cremini with some rehydrated dried porcini. For onions, try cipolline, sweet Vidalia, or standard yellow or purple onions.
Onion and Mushroom Tart
For the crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 pound onions
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 large egg
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped chives or green onions, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup heavy cream
PLACE the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse. Drop in the butter and pulse until just barely the texture of oatmeal. Add the ice water slowly and pulse once or twice, until the dough clumps together. Turn onto a floured board and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and remove the root ends from the onions. Slice in quarters and place in a pie dish or small roaster. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over top. Roast until the onions are soft and begin to color but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
COOK the mushrooms while the onions are roasting. Over medium heat, melt the butter. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes until golden. Remove from the heat.
ROLL out pastry dough onto a lightly floured surface to a circle roughly 12 inches in diameter. Gently transfer to a 9- to 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and fit in evenly. Pierce bottom with a fork and return to refrigerator to chill 20 to 30 minutes.
SEPARATE the egg and transfer the yolk to a small bowl; reserve the egg white for the topping. Mix the egg yolk, ricotta, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and chives. Remove the tart shell from refrigerator. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the bottom. Nestle the onions across ricotta base and scatter the mushrooms in between onions.
BEAT the reserved egg white, heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan in a small bowl. Pour evenly over onion and mushroom filling.
COVER tart with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer, until top is bubbling and crust is slightly brown, but not too dark.
SPRINKLE chives over top before servings. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 1 (9-inch) tart.