Let’s see: how many favorite recipes can you name that start with chopping onions and garlic? Enough to make you cry.
For your next dinner party, roll out a buttery-rich sheet of pastry, top it with carmelized onions (of all or any variety), add a splash of lemon and fresh herbs -- or a hint of brandy, if you dare. Fold, bake and voilà! One pretty, tempting appetizer or a simple rustic supper for two -- wrapped up in a tart, what the French call a “galette.”
Thanks to the incomparable Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, at last I’ve discovered the secret to handling pastry to retain that elusive balance of flour, liquid and lipids: chill and hand-build! Get in there, get your hands floured and buttered and work the lumps out of the dough, gently with your fingertips, but not too much.
Hint: to get that stretchy-smooth dough workable enough to yield an indescribably delicious melt-in-the-mouth crunch in the pastry, add a quarter cup of ricotta cheese to the flour and butter mixture. —Vivian Henoch
Test Kitchen Notes
This was like a Tart Flambé on steroids! The combination of alliums made for a very well-balanced sweet to savory filling. The pastry was made richer by the addition of ricotta, but this did make it a little more difficult to work with. I kept the sticky pastry within cling-film until it was ready to fill. It was perfect served with a peppery salad! —cheryl
For the pastry
1 1/4 cups
(1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Make pastry: in a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, add butter and with a pastry cutter, blend mixture until it looks like coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk ricotta, lemon juice and water. Make another well in the center of the flour mixture; add half the liquid and blend the mixture with your fingertips, removing large lumps. Repeat the process with the remaining liquid, until dough is velvety smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Cover and chill.
Prepare onion filling. Slice onions, leeks and fennel, and mince the garlic. In a sauté pan, cook vegetables with salt, pepper, and brown sugar until soft and slightly golden. Stir in herbs and splash of brandy.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pat lumps of chilled flour mixture into a ball and dust with flour. Roll the dough out into a round, about 12 inches. Spread onion mixture over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold border over the mixture, leaving the center open, like a pizza.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Ideal for appetizers, or a satisfying meal served piping hot out of the oven.