For this contest, I knew two things: A) I wanted to show off spring onions in and on top of a beautiful tart; and B-sies) I REALLY didn't have the time to labor over a perfect crust.
I know how to make a tart crust, but that doesn't mean I always want to make a tart crust. It's not the chilled butter, or the cups of flour that deter me, or even the time; it's the whole "taking out the Cuisinart" thing that usually stands in my way. I know. I'm can be a wimp, but I'm just trying to be honest.
So I began to think, what else could provide a creamy, crisp, sweet and savory crust without the work?
Quick cooking polenta was the answer. And when combined with a pan-full of caramelized spring onions and a quarter cup Greek yogurt, the result was a quick and easy, but oh so elegant dish that cooks up just in time for an impromptu brunch or to moonlight as a weeknight dinner side dish.
And because the polenta itself is mild in taste (but powerful in texture), it's the perfect backdrop to really showcase the sweetness of those onions and zip of the yogurt. —Sodium Girl
two 8 by 13-inch tarts or one, 9 by 12-inch tart
large red and/or white spring onions
sweet butter (plus extra for tart pan greasing)
yellow cornmeal / polenta
freshly ground black pepper
two, 8 by 13-inch tart pans OR one, 9 by 12-inch pan
To get started, separate the really dark green ends of your spring onions from their lighter stem and bulb. Give everything a good rinse, making sure to get the dirt off the leaves and set the green ends aside.
Taking the bulb end, slice vertically in half and lay the flat side on a cutting board. Then, slicing across the other way, cut into thin half moon shapes. Great work so far.
In a medium-sized skillet, melt the tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and let them sizzle, cook, and soften. To get them caramelizing, here's a little trick: add that drizzle of honey! The sugar will help speed up the process. But you'll still have to be a little patient, stirring and cooking those beautiful onions slices for about 25 to 30 minutes until they turn into silky, caramel onion threads. Set aside to cool, about 15 minutes, and mix with the 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.
In a medium pot, bring water to a gentle boil and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring as you go. Add the garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper, and continuing stirring over low heat until polenta is thick and pretty dry, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Take polenta off of heat and add in the onion and yogurt mixture, giving it a good stir until all the ingredients are combined. Allow it to cool for another 10 minutes and then spread it, about 1/2-inch thick, into your tart pan(s) -- which can either be two, 8 by 13-inch OR one, 9 by 12-inch in size. Place the pan(s) into the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450dg F.
Now this is where you can get a little fancy. Using the green ends that you set aside earlier, simply slice them into thin matchsticks (like the pictures) and spread them along the top. Or, chop into tiny bits, melt another 1/2 tablespoon of sweet butter in your skillet, give them a quick saute, and then spread along the top. Either way, sprinkle a little more black pepper on the tarts and give it a little drizzle of oil.
Finally, place the tart pan(s) into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the polenta is firm and has turned golden brown. Pat yourself on the back and serve immediately.
In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications. Five years later, I work part time and live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!