White Onion and Pecorino Tarts
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    Makes 8 tarts 7cm in diameter
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Onions in general are one of my favourite vegetables. I love all the different varieties and seldom cook without onions. I love the natural sweetness and flavour trapped in each variety.

White onions have the sweet and mellow edge. They make outstanding soups packed with amazing flavour hence naturally pairing well with all kinds of cheese. For this recipe I have chosen Pecorino cheese, the sharp salty Pecorino complements the sweet mellowness of the white onion, this combination works a treat.

This savoury short crust pastry recipe is another trusty old friend.  I double the recipe, divide the pastry in pieces and freeze the portion that I did not need on the day. Personally I cannot stand egg custards tarts that taste of over cooked scramble eggs. For that reason I bake the tarts at 120°C for 35 minutes. It might seem like a long baking time but I hope that you agree that it’s well worth the effort.

I have made small individual tarts which are perfect to be served as a starter or serve two tarts to a portion for a light lunch. If you are making this recipe for your vegetarian friends make sure you use vegetarian cheese.

photo of White Onion and Pecorino Tarts

Ingredients & Method

For the Short Crust Pastry

  • 450g plain flour
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5g salt
  • 110ml cold water

For the white onion and Pecorino tart filling

  • 3 white onions, peeled
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • Sea salt and Pepper
  • 250ml double cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon grain mustard
  • 3 large free-range eggs + 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • 30g Pecorino cheese, finely grated

First prepare the pastry, weigh the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter in small pieces and add the butter to the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. Ensure that all the butter is rubbed in and evenly distributed. Add the cold water and use a pallet knife to cut the water into the flour. Work fast and do not over work the pastry, as it will make the pastry grey and elastic, you need to avoid this. Cover the pastry with cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. On a lightly floured work surface roll the pastry 3 – 4mm think out and use a 7cm in diameter cutter to cut the rounds. I line the back of a muffin tray with the pastry to make the pastry cases for these tarts. It does look rustic and different from the pristine perfect tarts. Blind bake the pastry for 20 minutes.photo of White Onion and Pecorino Tarts

While the tart cases are baking make the custard filling. Cut 8 slices of white onion in 5mm thick slices, heat a non-stick frying pan and caramelise the onion slices on both sides with half the butter and seasoning. Set the caramelised onion slices aside.

Use a mandolin to slice the rest of the onions very finely. Heat the rest of the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat and cook the finely sliced onions until transparent with no colour. Season lightly. I normally place a lid on the pan to prevent the onions from colouring. Drain any access butter and liquid. Return the cooked onions to the pan and add the cream and milk bring the mixture to the boil. Remove from the heat set aside toe cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and add the eggs, grain mustard and grated pecorino to the cream mixture mix well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 120°C. Place the blind baked tart cases now on the inside of the baking tray the right way up.

Pour the mixture into the blind baked tart cases to just below the rim, gently place a slice of the caramelised white onion on top of the egg custard.

Gently place the baking tray oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Test the tarts to see if the custard is cooked by gently giving the tray a tap if the tarts are still wobbling continue cooking until they are set.

Let the tarts cool on a wire cooling rack before serving. I like to serve these tarts at room temperature with dressed salad leaves. photo pf White Onion and Pecorino Tarts

Cooks Notes

Parmesan Cheese is just as good if you do not have Pecorino, alternatively use a soft but fairly strong cheese perhaps something in the line of a Goats cheese. My preference is a slightly acidic cheese as it complements the sweetness of the white onions. If you are making this recipe for your vegetarian friends make sure you use vegetarian cheese.