What is the thing you always have too much of in the fridge/house? Mine is dairy: for example I currently have Parmesan, Cheddar, Brie, and St Agur, cream cheese and Italian mascarpone and butter. Usually I have a pot of sour cream as well as fresh and, since I live on my own, the cheese rarely gets eaten before it is past its best and the cream, the fresh at least, is often wasted too. So, when I want to use up some of the cheese stash, and don’t have much else in, I either make a cheese soufflé or this divine and ridiculously easy onion and cheese tart.
Simple enough to be made with leftover cheese and onions but dressy enough to serve to friends for dinner or just with drinks, this is a great end of the week/weekend recipe as well as being perfect for those days when you really have nothing in and no energy to shop for much.
It’s also, being from the endlessly mutable Appetite, very adaptable since it lends itself to all sorts of cheese, onions or pastry. Try a leek and Taleggio version, a red onion and Parmesan one or, as I did tonight, just make it with whatever you have and want to use up. It is truly delicious hot or cold and even tastes okay when it’s been bent in half and shoved in a lunchbox.
I always make the whole recipe because I rarely make it just for me (well, apart from tonight) and I like having it again for lunch. And if there’s two of you, or three, this just needs a salad to make it into a substantial dinner. However, it’s easy to cut it down: if you have less pastry, then chop enough onions to cover the piece of pastry once rolled out. Same with the cheese: cut down the amount to match the size of your pastry/amount of onions; you should have enough for an even spread over the onions without covering them completely.
Minimal shopping, minimal chopping, maximum effect…what’s not to like about a six-ingredient, six-step recipe?
Onion and cheese tart (adapted from Nigel Slater’s Appetite)
For four portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
white onions, 6
sea salt and black pepper
puff or shortcrust pastry (ready-rolled is the easiest to use), 1 sheet (about 200g)
a melty cheese (e.g. Brie, Camembert, Taleggio), about 120g
fresh thyme, a small handful of sprigs
1. Peel and top and tail the onions then chop them into wedges (about 6-8 pieces should do it).
2. Roll (or if pre-rolled lay) out the pastry onto a lined or greased baking tray, score a line about 1cm in from the edge and leave to one side.
3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the onions and leave them to cook slowly until sticky and soft; this will take about 30 minutes depending on the type of onions used and how big your pieces are.
4. After the onions have been cooking for about 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-assisted/gas 7.
5. Cut the cheese up into small pieces (de-rind it if you want/need, depending on the type you’re using).
6. Once the onions are cooked, spread them out on the pastry, sprinkle the cheese and thyme over the top, season with salt and pepper and then cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry is cooked (so puffed and golden) and the cheese melted…see the picture in the header above for an example.