Most of the leaves have fallen in Northeastern Wisconsin, and the woods have turned from scarlet a month ago to golden just last week to a deep rusty brown. But the sun is descending to that glorious angle that burnishes everything with an amber glow. It's good to be alive, especially on a day when the temperature is crisp and the skies are deep blue.
I love it here.
My crisper is still filled with late-harvest vegetables, including cipollini onions from Immerfrost Farm and delicata squash from The Blueberry Pier.
A few months back, I made this dish and the memory of it propelled me forward. Sometimes you need one recipe to suggest another.
I'd never worked with cipollini onions before, although I must have consumed them in something at some point. (They look light flattened versions of regular onions, or maybe little vegetable spaceships.) A few weeks ago, I made a side dish with delicata squash. Surely there's a sweet marriage here somewhere?
(I worried about peeling these flat little beauties, and thought I might lose a finger, but then I found these suggestions online. As it turned out, I had no problems once I halved the onions so they were easier to peel and slice.)
So here's how it all came together:
Sweet Autumn Tart with Cipollini Onions and Delicata Squash
- 2-3 cipollini onions, peeled and sliced of diced
- 1 small delicata squash, seeded and sliced in 1/4 in slices
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 heaping Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
- 1 sheet commercial puff pastry
- 1 small wheel Crottin de Champcol or any other goat creamy cheese
- 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 teaspoons bacon bits, optional
- dash sea salt, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a large skillet, brown the onions in butter and brown sugar until they begin to caramelize. Remove from skillet, leaving some juices behind. Set aside. Brown the squash slices in the same skillet, flipping over to ensure both sides turn a golden color. You may need to add more butter. (Yes, I use Smart Balance. I use it all the time.)
Set aside both the onions and the squash while you prepare the crust.
Roll out the puff pastry to ensure it fits in a greased tart pan. To be honest, I simply lay the pastry sheet in the pan and work it until it is evenly distributed. Next, sprinkle 1/2 cup of gruyere on the bottom of the crust. Distribute evenly. Bake the crust for roughly 10 minutes in the oven, monitoring it carefully. When you remove it, you will need to use a spoon or spatula to flatten the bottom of the crust.
Next, layer the squash, followed by the onions and the goat cheese. (If you choose to add bacon, do it now, distributing evenly. The chesse is creamy, so it will need to be tucked in between onions and squash. The cheese acts as a binder, holding the onions and squash together.
Finally, season with sea salt before returning to the oven for another 25-30 minutes of baking. About 15 minutes into the baking, add remainder of shredded gruyere cheese and fresh thyme. Check frequently; the top of the tart should turn a golden color before you remove it from the oven. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
This is a sweet, but not a dessert tart. It would make a great appetizer, or a meal in itself. In the latter case, I'd serve it with cooked squash and a green salad, pairing it with a Riesling.
I did not include bacon bits when I made this, but after tasting it, I believe they would add another level of flavor to the tart. I'll try that next time, reducing the salt.
As it is, the sweetness tempers the slight tanginess of the tart. The cheese provides a good foil for the faint hint of brown sugar. I expect it will taste even better a day later.