French Onion Tart

By • March 9, 2011 • 69 Comments

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Author Notes: The seedling of an idea for this recipe started while I was making cheddar cheese crackers for the kids. The thought occurred that it might be an interesting base for a tart crust.

As I wandered through the farmers' market later that day, in search of some "late winter" inspiration, a bunch of humble onions set the ball rolling. It was at the moment I knew I wanted to recreate the flavors of a French onion soup into my tart. While the directions seem long, it really does come together effortlessly, and well worth the time it takes to caramelize the onions.
Jennifer Perillo

Food52 Review: WHO: Jennifer Perillo is a mother, a food editor, and a blogger at In Jennie's Kitchen.
WHAT: French onion soup, re-imagined and re-packaged in tart form.
HOW: A filling of caramelized onions, thyme, Swiss cheese, sherry vinegar, and egg is poured into a whole wheat crust and baked.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The cheesey, whole wheat crust is tender and lovely, a perfect foil for the sweet, onion-loaded filling. The sherry vinegar keeps the whole tart balanced. And just like the soup, this tart is deeply satisfying...but not so rich that you can't eat two slices.
The Editors

Serves 6 to 8

For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2/3 cup (2 ounces) Swiss cheese, shredded

For the Swiss cheese pastry crust

  • 3/4 cup (110 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) very cold butter, shredded using a box grater
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold seltzer
  1. To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat as low as it can go without shutting off, and let cook until onions have cooked down and released a lot of their liquid, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Add the flour, salt, and paprika to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix the dry ingredients. Add the cheese and butter, then pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of seltzer, pulse again until a rough ball of dough comes together. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add more seltzer 1 teaspoon at a time (you may not need the entire 2 tablespoons), and continue to pulse until you have a ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter, flatten and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  4. Remove cover from the pot of onions, raise heat to medium, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onions turn golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. When onions are golden and very tender, stir in the sherry vinegar. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a medium bowl.
  5. Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll it into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Fold down sides of dough, leaving a 1-inch high crust.
  6. To finish the filling, add the egg and cheese to the bowl with the onions. Stir to mix well. Pour mixture over the tart crust and spread to the edges using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
Jump to Comments (69)

Tags: savory, Soups

Comments (69) Questions (7)

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12 months ago caroline

What can I substitute Sherry Vinegar with? I just don't want to buy one whole bottle and rarely use it. Thanks.

Susan.streit

almost 2 years ago carbonarasuz

Susan is a Recipe Tester for Food52

This tart is FABULOUS!!!!

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almost 2 years ago LoisG

can you make this ahead of time? like the day before?

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about 2 years ago Bozemanchef

I have made this (very similar tart) using a cornmeal crust. Also very delicious and adds an interesting texture. One of my favorite savory tarts!...

Stringio

about 2 years ago InjunTrouble

This looks absolutely divine. Making this very soon. YUM

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about 2 years ago Patricia Myhill

I get Amanda's email every week, with great recipes, but i noticed just on this last
email that the right margin is cut off and sometimes you can make up the cut off words but sometimes i can't. Can you please see to it so that my recipes come in intact.?
Thank you very much, Tricia

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about 2 years ago Karenmwaters

In making the crust in the food processor, can I just use the regular metal blade? I have an old one and can't find the bread blade.

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, I think the regular blade is perfect here (or at least that's what I always use to cut fats into flours for doughs like this).

Food52

about 2 years ago Manhattan Tart

Is there ANY way to delete the numerous, repetitive comments here? I made the tart tonight and was annoyed, every time I consulted the comments section, by having to troll through them... I used about 2 1/3# of onions and cooked them, lid on then lid "cracked," for about 75 minutes (they never browned per se but developed that lovely texture of caramelized goodies). I used fontina (what I had on hand) and 2 eggs for a slightly more custard-y texture (which didn't work, but that was soooo okay) and a 10", removable-bottom tart pan. The crust was a bit fussy (using 3/4 c. WW flour, 1/4 AP) but totally delicious, as was this tart. Serve this baby with simple greens and you are DONE, my friend. It's fabulous.

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about 2 years ago geneenb

This was delicious! I didn't have wheat pastry flour but I had regular wheat. I used 1/2 cup of that and 1/4 cup AP flour. Also I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry. Turned out great! Crust was easy to roll out without parchment.

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about 2 years ago Sauertea

So I added garlic and some nutmeg. Thinking of trying a cornmeal crust. Very good but found the pastry hard to roll out.

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about 2 years ago Sauertea

So I added garlic and some nutmeg. Thinking of trying a cornmeal crust. Very good but found the pastry hard to roll out.

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about 2 years ago Sauertea

So I added garlic and some nutmeg. Thinking of trying a cornmeal crust. Very good but found the pastry hard to roll out.

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about 2 years ago Sauertea

So I added garlic and some nutmeg. Thinking of trying a cornmeal crust. Very good but found the pastry hard to roll out.

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about 2 years ago Sauertea

So I added garlic and some nutmeg. Thinking of trying a cornmeal crust. Very good but found the pastry hard to roll out.

Stringio

about 2 years ago tastysweet

Is there a temperature to check in case we use a different type of pan?

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about 2 years ago fromage

Amazing! The filling was delicious, with excellent texture, and the crust - oh my goodness, the crust! You're right, it is surprisingly delicate. Thanks so much, wonderful recipe.

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about 2 years ago walkie74

This was delicious (urp)!

I used the last of the puff pastry in my fridge and sprayed it with Pam, then sprinkled it with paprika and a smidgen of cheese. I did that for about four or five layers. As for the onions, I followed the directions, but didn't add sherry vinegar (I couldn't find it at my local grocery store). Instead, when the onions were mostly golden, I used a can of Dr. Pepper and a tablespoon of white vinegar, cooking all the liquid out on high heat. I used the last of the Parmesan on top, folded the crust over like a package, and baked the requisite 25 minutes. I put a dollop of plain yogurt on top. With a few pieces of leftover roast chicken and some raw veggies and dip, it was the perfect meal. I am *so full* right now (hic)!

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about 2 years ago Queen Mab

Yum! Can't wait to try this. Now I need to research gluten-free pie crusts.

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about 2 years ago Aime.See

In her book, La Tartine Gourmande, Béatrice Peltre mentions a few recipes of gluten-free crusts. Maybe look up her blog to see if she posted one of them over there. Hope this will be helpful.

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about 2 years ago kam46

Gruyere cheese is NOT lactose free but is LOW lactose as are most hard cheeses. Many who cannot tolerate milk can eat small quantities of cheese without symptoms.

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about 2 years ago Rosemarie Montgomery-Hansted

tart was tasty. Thought the wheat pie crust was lacking in taste.

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about 2 years ago Rosemarie Montgomery-Hansted

tart was tasty. Thought the wheat pie crust was lacking in taste.

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about 2 years ago Rosemarie Montgomery-Hansted

tart was tasty. Thought the wheat pie crust was lacking in taste.

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about 2 years ago Rosemarie Montgomery-Hansted

tart was tasty. Thought the wheat pie crust was lacking in taste.

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about 2 years ago AmyRuth

woops, sorry

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about 2 years ago AmyRuth

The combo of flavors..... well they sound divine to me, although its hard to imagine cooking all those onions without their partner, ole man Garlic. he he Thanks for sharing.

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about 2 years ago AmyRuth

The combo of flavors..... well they sound divine to me, although its hard to imagine cooking all those onions without their partner, ole man Garlic. he he Thanks for sharing.

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about 2 years ago AmyRuth

The combo of flavors..... well they sound divine to me, although its hard to imagine cooking all those onions without their partner, ole man Garlic. he he Thanks for sharing.

32_copy

about 2 years ago AmyRuth

The combo of flavors..... well they sound divine to me, although its hard to imagine cooking all those onions without their partner, ole man Garlic. he he Thanks for sharing.

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about 2 years ago AmyRuth

The combo of flavors..... well they sound divine to me, although its hard to imagine cooking all those onions without their partner, ole man Garlic. he he Thanks for sharing.

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about 2 years ago suekl70

Thank you for your quick response.

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about 2 years ago KFS

Really looking forward to making this...just a question on the cheese...is "swiss cheese" gruyere or ementhal or something else?

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about 2 years ago Debbie Smith

It's something else but they are all in the same family and could be used interchangeably in this recipe.

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about 2 years ago funcooking

Can't wait to try this recipe. I make a swiss chard tart that has toasted pine nuts in it that I think would be nice in this too.

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about 2 years ago irinaleibo

OK Now it's fine? Please delete my post.
Thanks

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about 2 years ago irinaleibo

The picture is super imposed on A&M's comments. Can someone fix it please?
LOL
Sorry!
Thanks.

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about 2 years ago irinaleibo

The picture is super imposed on A&M's comments. Can someone fix it please?
LOL
Sorry!
Thanks.

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about 2 years ago legally delish

This just became dinner tonight! Can't wait to make it!

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about 2 years ago LIZZANNE

I don't care for wheat crust can I substitute ?

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Absolutely -- see my answer below.

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about 2 years ago suekl70

Can I use regular white flour instead of whole wheat? Recipe sounds wonderful.

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sure -- the whole wheat pastry flour makes a very delicate crust though. I was pleasantly surprised.

1107lksheadshotatjoes

about 2 years ago lksugarman

The pan in the photo appears to have been greased and floured.

I'm inclined to use a ceramic tart pan. Does anyone have experience with that? Does it affect the baking time? Any other observations?

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I don't believe we greased and floured the pan, but I'm checking with our kitchen manager. The ceramic should work fine -- it will probably just take a bit longer to bake.

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about 2 years ago Connie Grigsby

How do I copy this recipe?? The pages are blank. Connie

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about 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Brilliant!!! Congratulations!

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about 2 years ago Kimberly Roemer

Can the filling be made without cheese? I am lactose intolerant.........

Stringio

about 2 years ago Andi0808

There is a gruyere (spelling) cheese that is lactose free and very good. I've used it in other dishes and it is very good, no complaints here.

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sure, the filling would still be delicious without cheese -- it's mostly onions anyway.

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about 2 years ago Kimberly Roemer

Can the filling be made without cheese? I am lactose intolerant.........

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about 2 years ago RLStewart

My kitchen's too small for a processor, so I'd have to do this the old-fashioned way - - in a mixing bowl. Why seltzer? Is there another ingredient to substitute for it?

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

In theory, the seltzer makes the crust a bit lighter and flakier, but it's such a small amount you could really sub any liquid (beer, wine, water, milk).

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about 2 years ago cookingcat

Can I substitute plain water for the seltzer in the crust?

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sure! See answer above.

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about 2 years ago Patricia Kaiser

This sounds awesome! I'm not a fan of swiss cheese, though, and am wondering if any other cheese would work?

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about 2 years ago legally delish

I'm not a swiss fan either...I'm thinking of substituting gruyere or maybe even a hard goat cheese. I'll post how it goes!

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about 2 years ago Spicie Foodie

Wow!!! This sounds amazing. I'm going to bake it this weekend. Can't wait.

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about 2 years ago Boomdog02

could I use a tart pan instead of the springform pan?

Miglore

about 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes -- this is a very forgiving crust. As you can see in the photo, we used a copper tarte tatin pan!

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about 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh wow, this looks marvelous. I'm going to sub Gruyere and go for it!!!

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about 2 years ago susiefoodie

I see nothing wrong with blending in some gruyere or parmesan and ground roasted nuts or almond meal into the crust..absolutely nothing. Yummmm.

Cakes

about 2 years ago Bevi

Congrats Jennie! This looks wonderful.

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about 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

How did I miss this? Sounds wonderful--congratulations on the wildcard!

Me3

almost 4 years ago cake duchess

This crust must be amazing! I love Swiss cheese and want to try this recipe soon.:)

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almost 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This looks lovely! Love your idea of cheese in the crust.

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almost 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Yum! I think this would be the perfect savory breakfast, too.

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almost 4 years ago lapadia

Delicious, love french onion "anything"!

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almost 4 years ago Jaynerly

This sounds delicious! I look forward to tring this!