Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

I’ve been pushing myself to get to the gym more often lately.  I’m in my pre-Florida break mode…not because I’ll be wearing a bikini, not in this lifetime, anyway, but I do plan to do some heavy duty eating while I’m there and I figure the more calories I can burn off beforehand, the better.  But yesterday I forgot my headphones, and  the only available elliptical machine was the one that didn’t have closed captioning on the tv.

Normally, this would throw me for a loop.  I get reaaaallly bored exercising without the tv.  Music doesn’t do it for me, neither does a magazine.  Luckily Ina was on the food network making these little puff pastry tarts.  I know her so well I could read her lips.

I watched her take a sheet of thawed puff pastry and cut it into rounds using a small plate as a guide.

I saw her score around the circles of dough with the tip of a knife and then prick all over the center with a fork.

She thinly sliced onions and caramelized them,

and topped the tarts with crumbled goat cheese, sliced tomato and fresh thyme.

I got so absorbed in watching Ina cook with her calm, gentle manner in that gorgeous kitchen of hers, and trying to figure out exactly what she was doing and saying without sound, that I’m pretty sure I burned twice as many calories as usual.

I left the gym feeling refreshed, relaxed…and ravenous.  I decided to challenge myself to make these tarts at home without looking up her recipe.  Just from having watched her.

We’ve been buying the most amazing cheese at our local cheese store: chevre doux, or soft goat cheese.  It’s fluffy and mild, and we just love it.  It doesn’t have the sharp tang that some of the firmer logs of goat cheese have and it has a lighter texture than any other food I know of.  (This brand comes the closest to what we get at our cheese store) We had some leftover from our last cheese plate, and I just happened to have bought frozen puff pastry a few days ago.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts     ~~~ as lip read from Ina Garten
2 individual tarts
oven to 425
1 thawed sheet of puff pastry
1 large onion of your choice, halved and thinly sliced
olive oil
Marsala wine
salt and fresh pepper
fresh thyme
goat cheese
1 tomato, sliced
Parmesan cheese

  • Unfold the puff pastry on a floured surface and roll it out just a little bit, maybe an inch or two in each direction.
  • Use a small plate, about 6″ round, as a template and cut out two circles of dough using a sharp knife.  Transfer them to a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
  • With the point of the knife, trace around the inside edge of the circle of dough, just about 1/2 inch in from the edge.  This will give you a nice crust on your tart when it bakes.  Prick the inside of the inner circle all over with a fork.  Put the baking sheet in the fridge while you get the rest ready.
  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions on medium, letting them slowly wilt and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes.  If you like them caramelized, go for the full time, but you can stop at any point.  I usually get impatient, and I like them to have a little texture, so I usually don’t go for a full caramelization.
  • At the end of their cooking, hit the pan with a splash of white wine or Marsala, some salt and pepper and fresh thyme leaves.  Let the moisture cook down and set aside.
  • Take the pastry rounds out of the fridge and sprinkle the inner circle area with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Then spread a layer of the onions to cover the inner circle.  You want to keep the outer ring free so it will puff up during cooking.
  • Crumble goat cheese over the onions, and top with a slice of tomato.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, more thyme and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.  Grate more Parmesan on top if you want.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and crisp.

 Notes: Not much to note except to say make these! The only possible thing I can suggest is to cut the dough into squares, instead of  circles, to avoid any waste of the puff pastry.  I’ve already got plans for that other sheet of pastry.  Maybe I’ll make them bite sized.  What the photos can’t show you is how light and flaky these are. They’d be perfect for appetizers and entertaining.  And it seems to me that you could assemble them in advance and keep them the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.

Puff pastry is my new BFF.  Sorry Ina.

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Lea Ann (Highlands Ranch Foodie)
    March 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    This recipe sounds and looks WONderful. Bookmarked!

  • Reply
    Sarah (Snippets of Thyme)
    March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    All of these flavors speak to my taste buds. I caramelized some onions last weekend for some soft tacos and the house smelled so so good. The small tarts look perfectly delicious.

  • Reply
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche
    March 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I absolutely love goat cheese – these look divine.

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    March 9, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Sue these look perfect and mini’s would be great with pre dinner drinks.

  • Reply
    Vianney Rodriguez
    March 9, 2012 at 3:02 am

    I love your thinking, burn now…enjoy later!! Ina is such a sweet heart I have enjoyed her many time while on the threadmill (yuck) great tarts!!

  • Reply
    Cathy at Wives with Knives
    March 9, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I have made these little tarts and second your opinion that they are delicious. Purchased puff pastry is a staple in my kitichen. Beautiful photos!

  • Reply
    Lizzy
    March 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Gosh, Sue, this looks amazing!!! LOVE all the flavors involved…it’s just a super idea for an appetizer!

  • Reply
    Liza in Ann Arbor
    March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I’ve noticed that sometimes the recipe posted of foodnetwork.com does not match what was cooked on tv anyways. Likewise, for recipes in cookbooks (don’t match the food network version). Often, I just watch and take notes. Ina makes it look so easy. Gotta love her!

  • Reply
    BeetleBuggy
    March 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Oh yes, I watched this yesterday too and had saved the recipe to try. So glad you tried it, Your pictures look fantastic and so does your tart!

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Your tarts look wonderful! I love most things with goat cheese and caramelized onions!

  • Reply
    Amy
    March 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Haha! This post was too funny. I love the “as lip read from Ina Garten” for the credits. ;) The tarts look beautiful!

  • Reply
    hostess of the humble bungalow
    March 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Oh these look divine!
    Ina seems to have so much fun in the kitchen…I love her sense of humour and her very distinctive laugh.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    March 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    These look fabulous! I think you did a great job with that challenge! I’m going to be making these for sure. I’m glad you and Ina are so close ;)

  • Reply
    yummychunklet
    March 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    What delicate and delicious looking tarts! Great process photos, too.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    March 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve made these..they are divine. I adore Ina’s recipes. Am having trouble deciding what to post next week. I swear, half my posts are her recipes or ideas.

  • Reply
    Mary
    March 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Way to go! That is my kind of workout. These sound great and I am not a goat cheese kind of girl at all. I need to caramelize some onions today. You have me craving them even before breakfast!

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