Saturday, March 10, 2012

Easy Caramelized Onion Tarts

Let me start by making one thing perfectly clear: the fact that an onion likes to get dolled up every now and again does not mean s/he's a tart (or "easy," for that matter). But this post is actually about the kind of tarts that you bake in the oven, and it is totally easy, so there's no harm done. I hereby present one of those recipes that gives the impression of being kind of fancy, yet is perfect for a fundamentally lazy person like yours truly because it uses frozen puff pastry instead of a homemade crust. I literally had the idea to make this at 6pm one evening, and by 7:30 we were happily eating it in front of the TV. You could add other vegetables on top of the onions, but be careful not to overload: sliced mushrooms, baby spinach, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or pretty much anything you'd put on a pizza would be fine in moderation. I used two packages of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry to make four tarts, and cut them into big squares to eat as a main dish, but smaller slices would make a nice appetizer or party snack, especially if you want your guests to think you worked really, really hard. (And if, like the onions pictured above, you're wearing a little lipstick when they arrive, they'll think you're organized and glamorous!)

Easy Caramelized Onion Tarts
The Topping
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 2-3 large yellow onions, sliced into thin crescents
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
~ 1 tsp. each salt, oregano, basil, parsley
~ Fresh black pepper
~ Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

~ In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil on medium and add the onions.
~ Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, drained tomatoes and seasonings. Stir well to combine and cook another 5 minutes.
~ Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Remove the lid, raise the heat to high, and cook 10-15 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is gone and the onions are sweet, caramelized, and beauteous. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

The Ricotta
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water at least 30 minutes
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained
~ 1/4 cup lemon juice
~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each salt, basil
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1/4 - 1/3 cup nutritional yeast

~ Drain the cashews, then pulse a few times in a food processor to break them up.
~ Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth; use more or less nooch to reach a "ricotta" texture (you don't want it too wet, or it will make the pastry soggy).

And now...
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Lay out 4 sheets of thawed, frozen puff pastry on 2 large baking sheets. Gently fold in the sides of the pastry and crimp to make a rim.
~ Divide the ricotta evenly between the 4 pastry sheets, smooth with a spatula, and top with the caramelized onion mixture. Sprinkle with a little extra basil if you like.
~ Bake for 25-30 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown.
~ Remove from oven and allow to cool briefly before slicing.

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