Most of the time, I have puff pastry in the freezer. That means that when I’m in a pinch, as I was today, I can always whip up a light meal with a few vegetables and make a savory tart. This time around I made a caramelized onion and fennel filling, topped with sliced grilled Portobello mushrooms and blue cheese. I paired the individual tarts with mixed greens and a simple vinaigrette.
Sunny days are back, so I tend to prepare easy, lighter meals like this one and a lot of cooling drinks to fight off the heat. Who wants to be stuck in a hot kitchen when the weather is this nice?
Servings: 8 savory tarts
1 bouquet garni (see tips)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
1 small fennel bulb
, thinly sliced
1-½ teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
4 Portobello mushrooms
8 (5" x 5") squares puff pastry dough (store-bought), thawed
2/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cooking the onions and fennel: In a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Add onions and the bouquet garni. Cook until nicely golden and tender (it may take 5 minutes). Lower the heat to simmer. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until the caramelized onions become almost like a compote. Once the onions are fully cooked, add garlic and fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes so the fennel is caramelized and fragrant. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Add 2 teaspoons of dill. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.
Prepping the Portobello mushrooms: Using the edge of a spoon, scrape and remove the gills of the Portobello mushrooms. Wipe the inside clean using a paper towel (see tips). Brush the mushrooms with oil from the pan. Place the whole mushrooms on a hot grill. Cook until you get grill marks on both sides. Remove from the grill. Once the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, cut into long strips then cut the strips in half. Set aside.
Cut and place the puff pastry dough into oiled individual tart molds (you could also use a large tart mold). Prick the dough with a fork to prevent it from rising too much.
Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the onion and fennel mixture in each mold. Top with slices of Portobello mushroom and cover with a little blue cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes at 400°F, then lower the temperature to 375°F for another 20 minutes, rotating them half-way through so they cook evenly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Before serving, garnish with more blue cheese and dill.
How to make a bouquet garni: The traditional bouquet garni is composed of a sprig of thyme, 2 bay leaves (torn in half), 1 small portion of leek (only the green part), a few curly parsley stems and a small stalk of celery. You can always tweak it by substituting some ingredients such as bruised lemongrass, basil, coriander or star anise. Gather all the ingredients in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with some twine. You can use it to flavor your sauces and broths.
The blue cheese adds flavor and creaminess to the savory tart. You could replace with any other strong cheese.
Removing the gills of Portobello mushrooms prevents the dish from turning dark once cooked. This step is only for the aesthetic of the dish and does not affect the taste.
You can create a large pie if you don't have individual molds.
Don't discard the pastry remnants. Make some cheese twists the next day!