onion, potato and thyme tart
It’s odd weather. It’s sunny, it’s late May but it’s not hot hot. It should be hot hot. This means my body isn’t quite ready for summer foods. It’s probably a mental thing triggered by exactly the right amount of heat, sun and blue sky. The brain suddenly snaps into summer food mood. I’m currently still craving soups and stews.
This tart answers that little gap between spring and summer perfectly. The golden caramelised onions – a last vestige of colder months add a sweet warmth and depth of flavour whilst the new potatoes, freshly plucked from the earth, have that clean, greener taste that you only get from potatoes at this time of year. The thyme in my garden is just in flower and the whole plant is as its freshest and most pungent. I’ve been very generous with my helpings of thyme for this dish because the plant I have is so abundant with leaves but they’re being gently cooked with the rest of the dish and they mellow beautifully into the mix.
The egg and cream are rich and slightly naughty but what’s the point of life if you can’t enjoy the good stuff? My pastry is half white and half wholemeal flour, which makes for a nice mix with a bit of nutty texture, with added chives fresh from the garden. I also decided to throw in some asparagus. There’s so much British asparagus around at the moment that it seems such a shame not to take advantage of it. It’s just so good. The taste of the season!
for the pastry
- 100g plain white flour
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 100g butter
- 25g finely grated cheddar
- roughly one teaspoon freshly chopped chives
- seasoning and cold water to mix
for the filling
- butter and olive oil
- 6 medium white onions – halved and finely sliced into half moons
- 4 banana shallots – finely sliced
- 1 small leek – halved lengthways and finely sliced
- 9 new potatoes – skin on and sliced (not too thin, not too thick)
- 4 garlic cloves – grated or crushed
- a bunch of fresh asparagus
- 100g grated cheese – any choice
- 1 tablespoon freshly picked thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 200ml single cream
- salt and pepper
the above ingredients make two tarts for me… I use an 18cm loose bottomed fluted round tart tin as well as a 20cm x 7cm oblong, loose-bottomed fluted tin, both of which I grease well with butter
start with the pastry by placing the flours and butter in a bowl and rubbing them together with your fingertips, lifting your hands up high to get plenty of air into the flour. Once the flour and butter are combined and look a little like breadcrumbs, add some salt and pepper, the grated cheese and hoped chives and stir through with your clawed hand
with one hand shaped like a claw begin to mix the flour mixture as you slowly add a little water. The flour should start to come together as you add more water. You’ll probably use roughly 80mil of water but stop when the dough begins to come together, you don’t want your dough to be too damp or sticky
place the dough ball onto some clingfilm and pat it out into a rough flat circle, cover with the clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins
place all your onions and leeks into a large bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle in the thyme and then with your hands, toss it all together, separating the onions and coating everything in oil.
in a large pan, melt some butter and olive oil then throw in the onion and leek mix and let it gently sweat and cook down, stirring regularly for 15 minutes, then grate in the garlic, stir and let it sweat again gently for another 10 minutes until it’s a light brown colour, then stir in the potatoes, place a lid on, turn the heat down to low and let the whole thing gently sweat for at least 10 mins or until the potatoes are soft
add the asparagus on top of the mix, place the lid back on and let them sweat for another 5 mins. Turn the heat off and let the whole dish begin to cool whilst you blind bake the pastry
generously flour your work surface and roll out your pastry – nice and thin – and place it into your tart tins. I always start with the round tin and then re-roll the pastry bits for the oblong tin – prick all over with a fork and using a layer of baking beans, blind bake the pastry cases for 15 mins on 150C, then remove from the oven whilst you finish the dish
in a bowl, crack the eggs into the cream and beat well together
remove the asparagus from the top of the slightly cooled onion and potato mix and set aside, then grate the cheese into the onion and potato mix and stir well, then pour the cream and eggs mix onto it as well and stir it well together
spoon the mixed ingredients into the pastry cases and lay the asparagus on top (i prefer a random pattern but I leave this decision to you…)
bake in an oven on 160C for 30 mins or until the tart has firmed up and taken on a glorious golden colour
eat and of course enjoy!