Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Tart with a Whole Wheat Crust

I haven't really posted any savory items on this blog yet, but that would be wrong.  As unhealthy as all my desserts are, I'm a pretty healthy eater overall. I'm a vegetarian, I eat lots of fruit and veggies, and besides my sweets, I stick to whole grains as much as possible.

I wasn't always this way.  I remember well the days in college and early grad. school when I would become incredibly sleepy and lose all energy after every meal I ate.  These were the days when I would also regularly get a cheeseburger-without-the-meat (I've been a vegetarian since high school) and french fries at McDonald's.  Even when I wasn't eating junk food for lunch, I still ate things with white flour.  Then it was announced that McDonald's french fries are not vegetarian!  I was angry, of course, at the time, but it all worked out for the best, because I never went to McDonald's again after that.  At about the same time, I started eating pizza with whole grain crust for lunch a lot.  Then  I started eating exclusively whole grains for breakfast and lunch (and as much as possible for dinner as well).  Wow!  I was again a fountain of energy (ask my aerobics classes if you don't believe me), and life changed forever! 

Most whole grain breads still contain a large amount of white flour, often up to 50%, but this crust is made exclusively with whole wheat flour.  It's thin and crispy, and the caramelized onion and blue cheese pair very well.  I'll definitely be making it again.

Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Tart with A Whole Wheat Crust

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

For the Crust

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup cold water

As with most crusts, you can make it by hand or with a food processor.  If you're using the food processor (which I recommend if you haven't made a lot of pie crusts before), pulse the flour with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Add the diced butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas or just a little larger. Sprinkle in the cold water and pulse again until the tart dough begins to come together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a disk. Wrap the dough and refrigerate until it is firm, at least 1 hour. You can add more water if it's not coming together, but only add as much water as you absolutely need.  If there are a few crumbs that don't hold together, you're fine.

If you're doing it by hand, whisk together the flour and salt.  Add the diced butter, and use your fingers to work in the butter until it's the size of small peas.  Add the water, and stir it in with your hands, bringing the dough into a disk.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

For the Filling

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoons thyme (dried)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 ounces creamy blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

To Caramelize the Onions (you can do this in advance; refrigerate onions until ready to use)

In a large skillet, cook the onions and olive oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and  golden, about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes longer.  Remove from the heat and let the onions cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it to a 10-inch fluted tart pan (9" will work fine) with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan and trim off any excess (roll the rolling pin over the top, and the excess dough will just fall off). Use the scraps to patch any cracks. Prick holes all over the bottom of the crust with a fork. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

 Pre-Baked Crust (it shrank quite a bit from the sides)

Spread the onions in the tart shell and sprinkle with the blue cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bake until the cheese is melted and the onions are warm, about 5-8 minutes. Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

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