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Sunday 19 May 2013

Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart

Don't expect this to become a habit, but this is a home-made dish that I didn't even cook myself. Yep, I really can be that lazy sometimes!

Seriously, though, this was a fairly quick and light dinner for a warm spring day, which my girlfriend put together for me as a thank-you. The recipe originates in the BBC Good Food book 101 Veggie Dishes, but some minor changes were made to suit what was available in my fridge and at the local shops.

Ingredients (versus the original recipe):

  • 4 Small Onions (rather than 2 large)
  • Dark Muscovado Sugar (instead of the light kind)
  • 130g olives (rather than 175g (correction: 130g minus one - she just had to check they were alright before putting them on the tart...))
  • Approximately 150g Feta (compared to 100g)
  • The puff pastry was actually the ready-rolled, reduced fat kind

Preparation Time: The original recipe in the book states 45 minutes (or 30 on the website!) but, versus the breakdown, this was quicker to prepare at some stages and longer at others... so probably still about  30-45 minutes work, in total.

Tools Required:
  • Sharp Kitchen Knife, for to cut things
  • Chopping Board
  • Small Saucepan
  • Large Baking Tray (about 26cm x 38cm)
The Process:
Without duplicating the text of the BBC version, there's sadly very little to write about here. The onions were chopped, seasoned, fried, mixed with sugar and balsamic vinegar, then cooked till an appropriately syrupy consistency was achieved. This was done during the course of an afternoon, so the resulting caramelised topping for the tart had adequate time to cool before the next stage of preparation.

With the pastry being the ready-rolled variety, it was a case of fitting it to one of my baking trays, then assembling the toppings, doing the final baking stage (five minutes longer than the original recipe, since the pastry was not the kind it called for and thus reacted differently), and finally scattering on the shredded basil leaves prior to serving.

The Results:
One of the great miracles of home cooking, I find, is that traditionally savoury ingredients can often become very sweet when cooked in a particular way. Now, granted, caramelising the onions involves some sugar, and that's always going to affect the end result, making the onions artificially sweet. In this tart, we have the perfectly-pitched sweetness of caramelised red onions with counterpoints in both the bitterness of the olives and the saltiness of the Feta. Served warm, not long out of the oven, and accompanied by a light salad (most definitely not the sharp, bitter sort recommended by the recipe in the book! Why is rocket so popular?) it made for a pleasant, delicate meal for a warm spring evening (which gives you an idea of how long this post has been waiting!). The flavours complemented each other well, and the Feta's bite was nicely mellowed both by the baking and by being mixed in with the onion.

More than that, though, the remaining half became part of my lunch for the next two days, without any need for reheating. Some of the Feta's piquancy returned when eaten cool, but it never overpowered the caramelised onion, and the bitterness of the olives remained undiminished.

It has been suggested that, perhaps, a little more onion would have improved things. Comparing this tart to the photos in the book and on the BBC website, the depth of the main topping does appear to be a little lacking, but at least part of the reason is that my baking trays are far larger than those recommended by the recipe. I'd say the content was very well-balanced, especially since it tasted just as good cold as it had when warm.
Classy! (the 'wine' is actually Fentiman's Rose Lemonade (honest!))

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