Alsatian Onion Tart
To tell you the truth, this is really a type of quiche, but because quiches developed a bad rap back when they were so overdone in the 80’s, we’re calling it a tart to avoid immediate rejection. Quiches have some excellent qualities–easy to make, relatively healthy, they can be eaten hot or at room temperature, taken on picnics, served at cocktail parties, and of course with a salad they make an excellent lunch or light supper. So bring back the quiche! From the ubiquitous Quiche Lorraine to those made with spinach and mushrooms or ham and cheese, there’s a quiche to suit everyone’s taste.
My very favorite is the rich yet earthy onion tart. Its origins are in the Alsace region of France where it is often made without eggs or with the addition of cheese instead of bacon. I like to pack a pie shell to the brim with long-cooked, deliciously sweet onions, cover it with a mixture of eggs and cream and top it with a shower of crisp bacon. I start to feel hungry just thinking about it.
1 9″ tart shell
3-4 large onions (about 5 cups), thinly sliced and separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 slices bacon
3 large eggs
1 cup half and half (cream)
1 pinch nutmeg, salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes until the bottom is cooked and the pastry shell is lightly browned around the edges. Remove foil and weights and cool the baked shell.
Meantime, cook the onions: Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onions, the thyme, and a half teaspoon of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes then cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and beginning to caramelize. If there is liquid remaining, drain them in a colander, reserving the wonderful onion juice for another use.
Cook the bacon strips in a non-stick skillet until barely crisp. Drain on paper towels and cut into small pieces.
Whisk the eggs and cream, adding a grating (or pinch) of nutmeg, plus salt and pepper.
When the onions are somewhat cooled and drained, distribute them evenly in the tart shell, pour over the cream mixture, and dot with the bacon pieces.
Bake in a 350-degree oven until the filling is just set and the top is golden.