To err is human; to tart, divine.
I used to think that tarts were just wasted pies. To be frank, I felt cheated by them- robbed of an extra layer of pastry goodness. All tarts, I swore, would be improved with a lid on top of them.
But how wrong I was. This recipe has me eating my words, literally. Having no lid to cover it, the creamy onion and mushroom filling in these tarts caramelises beautifully in a hot oven. Add to that some fresh thyme and salty capers, and you've got yourself some very special tarts- no lids necessary.
These are highly versatile tarts, too- good through Summer and Winter and everywhere in between. They're equally at home at a picnic as a Sunday dinner; with accompaniments or all by themselves.
Caramelised Onion, Caper, and Mushroom Tarts
Makes: 2 tarts (of roughly 14cm in diameter, 3.5cm in depth)
Preparation time: c. 90 minutes
For the pastry...
170g plain flour (white or wholemeal, whichever you prefer)
85g vegan butter
A cup of ice-cold water
A pinch of ground sea salt
For the filling...
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 brown or white onions, finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp capers (pickled and/or brined), roughly chopped
300g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced (wild mushrooms are also great if you can get them!)
200ml non-sweet vegan cream
1 tbsp plain flour
15g fresh thyme leaves
Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1./ First make the pastry. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour with a pinch of salt, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. You'll get a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. To this add some cold water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing and gently pressing the dough together with your hands as you do. You will not need all the water- just enough to form a smooth, pliable dough. Tip the pastry out onto a clean, floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin to an even sheet of about 3-4 mm thick. Press carefully into 2 tart dishes, trim, and refrigerate while you make the filling.
2./ Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius. Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan. Over a medium-high heat fry the garlic and onion with the sugar until golden and caramelised, stirring frequently. Add the capers and mushrooms and continue frying. Once the mushrooms are fully cooked, add the cream and the thyme leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour and keep cooking for another 4-5 minutes, stirring as you do. Season to taste and stir again. Take off the heat and remove your pastry cases from the fridge.
3./ Spoon the hot mushroom filling into the tart cases. Bake for 10 minutes at 225 degrees Celsius, then for another 20 minutes at 200, or until the tarts are golden and caramelised on top. All ovens vary, so keep an eye on yours.
4./ Serve the tarts hot or leave to cool and refrigerate. Enjoy.