"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Not a Bad Start, For My First Onion Tart

by Julie on June 28, 2012

in Minor Miracles, Dinner, Vegetarian

OK. So I tried to fire up the grill the other day for some Bad Home Grilling, but, predictably, I couldn’t get the charcoal going.

So I decided to go the other route and try another thing I’ve never done before: make an onion tart.

Let me say right from the start; the tart itself came out lovely and very tasty. If I hadn’t almost burned my kitchen down, it wouldn’t even be worth blogging about.

Let’s just say this is how to make an onion tart for dummies, ok? The abbreviated version. You can check out the recipe I used for Cauliflower and Onion Tart here, at Smitten Kitchen, because Deb knows exactly what she’s doing and has all manner of exegesis on the topic you won’t find here.

A caramelized onion tart may not seem like a big deal to you, oh sophisticated reader. Or maybe it does. Maybe you’re like me and didn’t grow up in a world where onion tarts were ever on offer. Maybe you didn’t even know what caramelizing an onion meant. Or how to do it. Or why.

Up until recently, caramels were candies you got in your Halloween pumpkin and they came in two shades of brown, light and dark. Right?

I can’t be entirely alone in my ignorance, can I?

I think if we took a show of hands in dusty, tradition-free Southern California, we would find many souls who have come this far without the taste sensation that is a caramelized onion tart.

Nevertheless, I know about onion tarts now. And if I can make one, you certainly can.

But you must heed first my stupid mistakes.

Because this was my first onion tart, I went ahead and did the wrong thing right out of the chute.

chopped onions

First, DON’T CHOP your onions, dummy.

I’d be a much less bad home cook if I remembered to sit down and read through a recipe several times before starting.

Better. Now caramelize until golden brown…

I caramelized my first onions only a few months ago, cooking thin slices of them slowly in a large skillet, until they’ve turned golden and brown and your kitchen smells like paradise…let them cool a bit, then add all your other fillings…

Gruyere makes it tangy!

Please note that in this delicious recipe, there are several cheeses involved. And you combine them all into your tart thusly:

You gotta know this is gonna burble over…

…Unless this is your first ever caramelized onion tart and you’re a blinking tyro.

I put the tart in the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. I then walked maybe 15 feet away into the next room and looked at Facebook while sipping some wine. I looked up when I noticed the smoke.

Because I had not put a pan underneath my tart dish, the cheese was burbling out and burning onto the bottom of my oven. You can imagine. Or maybe it’s better you don’t.

In any case, the tart was saved.

Not too shabby for one’s inaugural onion tart.

So I made a decent caramelized tart entirely from scratch and didn’t burn my house down.  It’s not unlike losing my virginity. Now that the drama of the first time is behind me, I can fine tune, and get to the good stuff.

Stay tuned…

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

kim @frogpondsrock June 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I will admit that while I “know” what an onion tart is. I have never cooked one. thanks for the inspiration


alice June 29, 2012 at 7:57 am

Wow. I’m really intimidated by tarts for some reason, even though it’s essentially a savory pie and I’ve certainly made pies before. This looks wonderful though, I’ll have to locate a tart pan soon and try it out. Thanks for posting! (and good to know about the pan to catch overflow)


Julie June 29, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thanks, Alice! And I’ll say it again: if I can do it, anybody can do it.
(But yeah, note the catch pan….)


Jayna June 29, 2012 at 8:28 am

I’ve never been able to caramelize anything, ever, but now, I think I shall try again!


Sara June 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

So did you use the cauliflower too, or just onions? I’d be more inclined towards a straight-up onion tart, I think.


Julie June 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

I only used onion (but all the gruyere and eggs and Parmesan, etc.) And it turned out creamy and delicious. I would have definitely used the cauliflower but I didn’t have any and I’ll be damned if I was gonna go back to Trader Joe’s AGAiN! So next time…
And truffle oil? Who the hell’s got that?
Let me know how you fare!


audrey June 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

Now you are ready for French Onion Soup. Sophisticated food for the poor. And the onions take 45-50 minutes of slow cooking- so lot’s of time to goof on the PC with a couple of glasses of wine.


Chris July 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I can almost smell this cooking. I don’t think there’s a better smell in the kitchen than carmelizing onions.
Sounds soooo good!


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