The following recipe is inspired by my wife.
(She's not literally my wife, but a fabulous friend that, upon house-sitting for a brief time together, and through cooking and cleaning and caring for one another, became my spouse, causing much confusion for taxi drivers and boyfriends.)
There were two occasions where wife made a goat cheese and beetroot tart for me. The first time, I rendered the tart as unforgettable. Indeed, the second time she made it, I imploded with joy - what a thing to come home to at 9pm after a long day at work! It was as gorgeous as the first time: the creamy quality of the goat cheese, the gentle sweetness of the beetroot and an uplifting touch of balsamic vinegar - I made a mental note to add something like that to my own cooking repertoire.
And I did, a couple of years later. It's same-same (beetroot, goat cheese, pastry, balsamic vinegar) as wife's but also different (I remember wife's rendition to be more of a open pastry - mine, with the eggs and cream and all that, is more akin to a quiche).
So, here's to the wives (literally or not!) that feed us and house us and love us and... inspire us!
- 24cm tart dish (or another size, of course, but just be aware that you might have some leftover ingredients if the tart dish is too small. Sometimes, when I have an excess, I get a small ramekin or two and cook the leftover bits in there).
- Pan, wide and heavy-based if you have it. If not, no big deal - you'll just have to be a bit more careful about not burning the onions.
Makes enough pastry to line a 24cm tart dish.
Don't have time to make the pastry? Buy something pre-made from the shop and skip this step.
- 350g plain flour
- 150g butter
- 5 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp castor sugar
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius. While it's preheating, put the butter in an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven until it melts and starts to bubble and brown a bit. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a little.
(While you're waiting for the butter you can get started on the onions - steps outlined in 'Filling Method'.)
- Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and canola oil to the melted butter and pour the lot into the bowl, and with a spoon and/or your hands, mix the dry and wet ingredients together until well combined, trying not to overwork the dough.
- Place the dough into the tart dish and, using your hands and fingers, spread it out along the dish's surface and walls, aiming for the dough to be approximately 75mm thick.
- You can tidy up the edges of the dough with your fingers by going around the rim of the dish and pressing gently into the top and wall of the pastry so that the pastry sits neatly (if this is confusing, just imagine that you're building a sandcastle and you're trying to tidy up the shape of one of the sandcastle's walls).
- With a fork, pierce all over the base of the pastry, making sure to pierce through completely. (This is to let air escape and to prevent your pastry from forming a massive bubble).
- Place the pastry into the oven for about 15 minutes or until the colour is lightly golden. The pastry will be cooked a second time with the filling, and a deeper, golden colour will be achieved then.
- Remove from oven and set aside until needed.
- 50g butter
- 2 medium-large red onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 250g cooked beetroot, sliced 30-40mm thick
- 200g goat cheese (fromage du chèvre), sliced 40-50mm
- 3 eggs
- 200ml cream
- salt and pepper
- fresh or dried thyme leaves/branches
Caramelizing the onions
(This step can be started while the pastry is baking, or can be done a day or two in advance. I sometimes caramelise onions in bulk to use in tarts, quiches, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and other savoury dishes, saving time and adding flavour.)
- Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onions and stir them occasionally, on a medium heat. The aim is to soften them and to release their natural sweetness while not burning them, and the more patient you are about this, the better the results tend to be.
- After 10-15 minutes or once they look translucent, add the sugar and a pinch of salt, stirring to evenly distribute. Continue stirring on occasion for another 15-25 minutes. Adjust the heat so that it is always just below burning point.
- Toward the end, mix in the balsamic vinegar to help de-glaze the pan and further intensify the flavour. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.
And the rest (it gets simpler from here!)
- Once the pastry and onions are ready, you can start assembling your tart.
- In the pastry, layer the onions, beetroot and goat cheese until its full.
- In a bowl, place the eggs, cream, some thyme leaves and some salt. Gently beat with a whisk or fork, then pour over assembled tart.
- Garnish with some thyme leaves and stems and cracked pepper.
- Place the tart in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the egg and cream mix solidifies and the tart's top is golden.