It’s the weekend guys, and I don’t know about you but I feel good. Ecstatic, even, although it’s not like I’ve got anything special planned out. But how great is the very thought of two full days crammed with nothing other than endless possibilities of having fun?
And here’s one way to have that fun and eat well too — my deliciously vegan French Onion Tart with a divine gluten-free crust.
I use so many onions every day in my cooking, usually as a flavor base for other ingredients, that I forget just how much of a star this good old veggie is in its own right. Caramelized onions are deep, rich, sweet, smoky and incredibly flavorful. But wait! Did you know that onions are also super-good for you? They contain cancer-fighting compounds and have anti-inflammatory properties. Amazing.
I had been wanting to post this recipe forever because it’s so good and because I love you all so much, but I needed to find the time to make it during the day so Desi could get great pictures too. Despite sounding so ooh la la, this is quite a simple recipe and you don’t need to go shopping for any fancy ingredients (not unless you consider nutritional yeast a fancy ingredient, but it is optional). Which makes it the perfect treat for a lazy weekend, when you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time hanging out on the couch with your sweetie (or your dog or cat or all of the above), and a bottle of wine.
The gluten-free crust is wonderful, but if you’d rather make a wheat crust that’s perfectly fine too. Just follow the instructions for the whole-wheat crust in my Coriander Quiche recipe.
So on with the tart recipe then, and weekend here I come! Why aren’t there two of you in every week?
- For the tart shell:
- 1¼ cups gluten-free flour all-purpose flour (try and use something that's gum-free. If you can't find one, make your own with a combination of sorghum and millet)
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (should be solid. Refrigerate if needed for a few minutes if it's liquid)
- Ice cold water
- For the filling:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large onions, very thinly sliced. About 6 cups altogether.
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp cognac (optional)
- 1 14-oz package of firm tofu, drained
- ½ cup soymilk or other nondairy milk
- 1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped (substitute with 1 tsp dry thyme if you can't find fresh)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, it adds a slightly cheesy flavor which is nice)
- 1 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
- To make the tart shell, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt and black pepper in a bowl.
- Cut the coconut oil into the all purpose flour with a fork or a pastry cutter until you have small pieces of the fat dispersed throughout the flour.
- Drizzle in ice-cold water and mix with a fork until the dough comes together in a ball. Add the water slowly because you don't want a wet dough-- it should be moist enough to just hold together.
- Press the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the filling.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, sugar and a little salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions start to caramelize and become golden brown. This took me about 20 minutes over medium heat.
- When the onions are browned, stir in the thyme, then add the cognac to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the tasty brown bits stuck at the bottom. If you'd rather not use cognac, use vegetable stock or plain old water.
- Turn off the heat and set the onions aside to cool.
- In a blender, crumble in the tofu then add soymilk, nutritional yeast if you're using it, mustard and salt to taste. Blend until you have a very smooth mixture.
- Scrape the tofu mixture into the pan with the onions and mix well.
- To assemble the tart:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface to a diameter two inches larger than the base of the tart pan (mine is 9 inches wide). Fold the dough in half and then transfer to a tart pan and open it so it lies evenly across the pan. If the dough tears, don't worry. Patch it up once you have transferred it to the pan. No one will be able to tell.
- Run the rolling pin across the edges of the tart pan and remove any excess dough hanging over the sides.
- With a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell in several places. Then cover with aluminum foil and fill it to the brim with rice or beans or pie weights. I keep some rice in a box and reuse it every time I need to blind bake a pie or tart crust.
- Bake the filled tart crust for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the foil with the rice or beans in it, and continue to bake the crust for another 10 minutes until it is quite dry.
- Remove the crust from the oven and increase the heat to 425 degrees. Brush the bottom of the crust with some extra virgin olive oil. Now scrape in the filling and smooth it.
- Return the tart pan to the oven and bake for 40 minutes until the top of the tart is golden-brown.
- Remove the tart to a rack and cool 10 minutes. Then unmold it -- I do that by placing the tart on top of a mason jar and letting the rim slide off. Slide the tart off the base and onto the rack and continue cooling it for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.