Here’s to new beginnings, rosy thoughts of traveling again, and all the sweet, tender, precious produce at the market these days.
As I write this, things are looking up; they’re even cheers worthy. I’ve been able to clink real glasses with more friends in person lately, and since I’m a cook who cooks based on my moods (and my stomach’s own demanding mood), I’ve been able to think about cooking for them again. Which has left me wondering: What should I be making for my pals now that I’m starting to see them more often? Something easily shareable, impressive without the fuss, and most importantly, delicious.
To me, that means a version of tarte tatin, a French upside-down dessert that’s inverted after baking to reveal caramelized apples on a golden brown flakey puff pastry. Ditching the traditional apples because, hey, this is an untraditional year and apple season is over, I’ve opted for spring onions, the smaller, green-topped seasonal versions of the kitchen mainstay.
While this caramelized spring onion tart is sweet, it’s also savory. I salt the caramel and season it with thyme, vinegar, and Dijon mustard to give it a bit of umami. After the tart gets sliced up, I grate Parmesan on top before serving to highlight the savory side of this spring-y affair.
It’s not sounding much like dessert anymore, and that’s the plan. It’s more of an all-day appetizer with a main dish flair. And it’s totally shareable. Bring it as a snack to the park in slices, or keep it at home to have for dinner, brunch, or whatever with a side salad. Onions are naturally sweet, like apples, so they work in many applications with other sweet things, just as apples can work so well in savory dishes. If we’re okay with roasted applesauce aside pork chops, it seems fair game to put onions in a tart tatin. Print
Caramelized Spring Onion Tarte Tatin
This savory-sweet version of tarte tatin replaces apples for the young, tender alliums we call spring onions. Look for spring onions with bulbs about the size of a golf ball to give the tart topping body, but smaller or larger ones will work.
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, about 8 ounces (frozen/store-bought is fine)
1 to 2 bunches spring onions (about 1 pound total)
90 grams sugar (a scant 1/2 cup)
1½ teaspoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Take the puff pastry out of the freezer to defrost if frozen. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Trim roots and any dry, papery dirty outer layers from the spring onions. Starting with the green ends, cut the spring onions into ½-inch green tubes and then ½-inch discs with the bulb and set aside.
- Add the sugar and the salt to the middle of a 12-inch ovenproof pan and pour ¼ cup water over the top. Turn the heat on to medium. Cook, constantly stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Then turn the heat up to high and let sit, cooking, undisturbed until the sugar starts to turn into a pale golden caramel, about 3-5 minutes – If it just turns golden on the edge of the pan, swirl that into the rest of the melted sugar with a wooden spoon and turn off the heat.
- Add the butter, vinegar, mustard, and thyme to the caramel. Turn the heat back on to medium stir vigorously until (if using a steel pan, you can use a metal whisk) all the ingredients are combined, and the mustard is thoroughly mixed in with no visible droplets left. The caramel should be bubbling throughout this mixing. Turn off the heat once done.
- Add the onion bulb discs to the pan first; arrange them flat in the caramel all over the pan and then fill in the spaces with caramel with the green tube pieces. If any onion pieces touch the sides of the pan, tuck them in so there’s room to create a lip of crust.
- Make sure your puff pastry is fully defrosted. If the dough is a circle, great—lightly flour a workspace and roll it out to 11-inches in diameter (this will fit the inside of a 12-inch pan, cover the onions, and allow for a lip of crust). If working with a pastry sheet, roll it out to 11-inches across and cut an 11-inch circle.
- Gently lay the pastry dough over the top of the onions in the pan. The onions should be fully covered, leaving a little extra dough around the edge. Use that little extra dough and fold it onto itself to create a thicker edge. With a knife, poke holes in the pastry spaced about 1-inch apart.
- Place on the oven’s middle rack and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden with bubbling caramel coming up the sides, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 1-2 minutes and quickly invert over a parchment-lined workspace or cutting board.
- To serve, cut into slices and grate Parmesan over the top.
Note: this recipe doesn’t include instructions on making puff pastry because 1) I’m not a pastry chef, and 2) it’s not necessary to make it yourself, especially when you can buy good frozen puff pastry like Dufour. But, if you want to make your own, please go ahead and overachieve!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: California
- Serving Size: 4
Keywords: tarte tatin, spring onion