Caramelised Red Onion & Blue Cheese Tart

Red onions, when baked slow and long in the oven evolve into the sweetest caramelised little darlings.  Any acrid like taste that can be all too easily associated with onions is lost forever when you pull them from the oven bubbling in their marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and just a light dusting of brown sugar.   They are transformed into a completely new offering, one that presents a plethora of new culinary opportunities. 

When met with an array of red onions I often resort to my beloved oven roasting method.  And this makes me a very happy home cook, because whilst the oven is busily working away at cooking my red onions to absolute perfection I can focus my attention to much more important matters; what to couple my onions with once the ring of the oven alarm sounds.  One of my favourite pairings has to be my roasted red onion & eggplant feta salad, consisting of red onions roasted in their usual marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and brown sugar, roasted slices of delicious eggplant (also olive oil soaked), which are tossed through mustard/balsamic/olive oil dressed salad leaves, salty chunks of creamy feta and roasted walnuts.  And what has me mad about this salad is the contrast between the sweet caramelised red onion and the salty sharpness of the feta.  It’s absolute perfection.    

It’s that salty sweet love affair that led me to today’s creation, caramelised red onion and blue cheese tart.  The perfect springtime Sunday lunch, it’s light, full of flavour and simple to prepare when you do as I have, use shop bought shortcrust pastry.  I make no apologies, today is a beautiful day that deserves to be enjoyed on the balcony sipping sauvignon blanc, nibbling at a gorgeous onion tart and not spent slaving away in a kitchen fretting over homemade pastry.

The tart is a wonderful flavour blend.  The delicate, short, crumbly pastry cradles a creamy mixture of egg, sour cream, garlic and thyme that is darted with the caramelised red onions.  Sharp and creamy blue cheese in crumbled on top of the tart and for me this is where the magic happens.  It’s the mouthfuls of sweet caramelised onion and blue cheese that provides the wow factor as it leaves your palette beamingly enthused by the sweet salty combination.  With a beautiful day to take pleasure in and a glass of vino in hand, this tart makes for the perfect Sunday.  Enjoy. K xxx

Caramelised Red Onion and Blue Cheese Tart

adapted from Fresh Magazine, November 2011 issue

300gm shortcrust, shop bought pastry

3 large red onions, peeled with root end trimmed but left intact (this helps the onions quarters stay together whilst cooking)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
150ml sour cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs chopped thyme leaves
100gm soft blue cheese
To serve:
Baby rocket leaves

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Cut the onions into quarters through the root end and place in a large oven dish lined with baking paper.  In a small bowl combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Pour balsamic mixture over the onions and toss to combine.  Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally.  Cool slightly.
Line a 26cm loose-based tart tin with pastry and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Bake blind for 20 minutes (see bake blind note below) then remove the weights and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and dry.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.
To make the filling whisk all the ingredients, except the blue cheese in a bowl and season.
Arrange the onions in the pastry case and gently pour over the filling.  Crumble the blue cheese into pieces and place around the onions.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is golden and set.  Cool for 30 minutes.
To serve, remove from tart tin, place on serving platter and garnish with rocket leaves.

Bake Blind:
Is a technique that allows pastry to cook without rising.  Simply line the prepared pastry case with baking paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans/rice.  The weights/beans/rice support the pastry as it cooks.  Bake the pastry case in a preheated 190°C oven for up to 20 minutes before removing the paper and weights.  The pastry shell will have taken form and will be ready for the filling.

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