Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mini Onion Cheese Tarts with Heirloom Tomatoes

This is definitely something that was time consuming but oh so worth it!  

A couple months back my mom sent me several pounds of baby onions from my Grandfather's garden back in Michigan.  Have I ever mentioned that my mom has this amazing organic garden in Michigan and is constantly overnighting me things when they are in abundance?  Well, this year my grandpa had tons and tons of these baby onions, and supposedly once you pick them, you are supposed to let them sit in the garage or some other cool place on top of newspapers until the skins completely dry out.  Once this happens, you can store them in the large mesh onion or other fruit bags and they will keep for a long period.  I still have about half a pound, although they are now in my refrigerator.  I did keep them in a bowl on the counter for a good couple months (trying to remind myself to use them!) and true to my mom's word, nothing happened to them.  They remained super fresh.

I got the idea for this recipe from my friend Brittany who made mini butter tarts (with real dairy butter) and was kind enough to share her recipe with me, which I easily converted to vegan.  So, with lots of patience and excitement (initially!)  I decided to make these bad boys and was happily rewarded when Hubbs decided to eat over 12 of them in one sitting (no joke!).  Glad he liked them, but kind of wish I had someone a little girly or foodie over so they could ooh and ahh over them like I did.  I had a great time making these, but likely will not again unless my little niece or mum help me.

Mini Onion Cheese Tarts with Heirloom Tomatoes:

The gorgeous end result!

Yields: 24 mini tarts, with a small amount of dough leftover

Butter Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chilled earth balance
3 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

Seasoned Onions:
10-12 mini onions, ends removed, and first tough layer removed
2 tablespoons earth balance
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch sea salt and black pepper

Remaining Toppings:
Baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil, Chiffonaded
Daiya, as needed

1.  Prepare the dough.  Place the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk well together.  Add the earth balance and gently incorporate with hands, being careful not to over-mix and make the dough too tough.  Add the ice water, starting with the 3 tablespoons, mixing, and adding more as needed.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill out in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator after about half an hour.  It should be relatively firm, but still pliable.  If it is too firm, allow it to sit out for about 5-10 minutes before proceeding.  Dive the dough into 2 pieces (it's easier to work with).  Cover the half you are not currently working on back in the plastic wrap.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

The dough rolled out

4.  Sprinkle your work surface with flour and sprinkle the top of the dough as well.  flatten lightly with your hand.  Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough evenly and use a cookie cutter or other round object, also dusted in flour to cut out the pieces needed for the tarts.

The circles for the tarts cut out.

5.  Lightly oil a mini muffin pan with spray olive oil or whatever you have on hand.  Press the cut out pieces of dough into the pan, being sure to press into the edges.  

The dough all pressed into the pan!

5.  Partially bake the dough base in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and golden.

6.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan add the earth balance over medium heat and allow it to both melt and become hot.  Once it is hot, add the dried thyme and let it sizzle for a minute or so.  Add the onion slices, separating into rings as you place them in the pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, stirring frequently, just until the onions begin to soften - you still want them to have texture.  Season to taste.

7.  Remove the baked crusts from the oven and add several of the onion slices, followed by two slices of the heirloom tomatoes, a couple pieces of daiya and bake, just until the daiya melts. 

8.  Once the tarts cool slightly, top with the basil pieces.  Be sure not to do this when the tarts are still hot or the basil will shrivel and turn brown right away.

Here are those yummy onions!


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