I have said it before (more than once), but I will say it again – I love Bill Granger. In fact, I use so many of his recipes, I am only amazed that I have not blogged more of them. This recipe, from the fantastic Bill’s Open Kitchen, is a great example of Granger at his best – the recipe is easy, not fiddly, simple, impressive and delicious.
“Bridget’s Onion and Feta Cheese Tart”
A packet of frozen puff pastry approx. 380g (13oz)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1kg (2lbs, 4oz) brown onions
1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A good pinch of salt
Ground black pepper
50g (2oz, 1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan (if you are like me, you will probably double this)
100g (3.5 oz) feta cheese
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves
*You will also need: A little flour to dust the surface where you roll out the puff pastry; Baking paper.*
Before you begin cooking, take the puff pastry out of the freezer – it will take about 40 minutes to thaw, or you can thaw it overnight in the fridge. Finely slice the onions. Place the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and add the onions. If your onions release a lot of liquid so that they are boiling rather than frying, remove the liquid, and cook in two batches in frying pans with a little more olive oil. You don’t want the onions to burn, or brown a lot very early, so stir regularly. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the onions are soft and sticky (the longer, the better).
Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and a good grinding of black pepper, and stir to combine. Cook for at least another 20 minutes until the onions are looking brown and caramelised. (The original recipe says at this point you only need to cook the onions for another 5 minutes, but it looks like this is just violating the rule of caramelising onions pointed out here. The longer you cook them, the better.) Take the onions off the heat, and allow to cool a bit.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (425°F). On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry. If you are combining two sheets, dab them with a little bit of water where you want them to stick together. You want to create a pastry rectangle around 20cm x 40 cm – cleanly cut the edges with a sharp knife. Transfer the pastry to a baking tray lined with baking paper (parchment) – the easiest way to do this is the following: Place a rolling pin at the end of the pastry and loosely roll the pastry around the pin. Now you can move the pastry to your tray, and unroll it directly onto the baking paper.
Score a 1cm rim around the edge of your pastry – this will then puff up and create your crust. I ended up making my edge larger than necessary – trust that 1cm will be enough. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. Sprinkle the finely grated parmesan within the scored edge. Evenly cover the cheese with your onions – I suggest putting the onions on in little dollops, as if you spread it you will push all the cheese over to one side.
Put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are puffed up and golden-brown. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and fresh oregano leaves. Eat!
Note: You could adjust this to make smaller individual tarts by cutting the pastry into 10cm x 10cm (or 15cm x 15 cm if you are hungry) squares. Little tarts would be a wonderful addition to a picnic (though I would suggest adding the cheese and oregano leaves just before serving, if they are going to travel).