Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
Frozen puff pastry dough is a home cook’s best friend, a versatile crowd-pleaser that cooks to flaky perfection in minutes. Here it serves as a base for caramelized onions, which are easy to prepare, though they do require a bit of patience. The slow application of heat enhances the onions’ natural sugars, transforming sharpness into sweetness with depth.
Though the technique for cooking the onions is almost foolproof, there are a few steps you can take to ensure success, starting with the onions themselves. Go with yellow onions as opposed to white; they’re slightly sweeter, with less of a bite, making them well-suited to the caramelization process. Also, when cutting the onions, aim for slices that aren’t so thick that they’ll take long to cook, but aren’t so thin that they’ll lose body and essentially melt away into mush. About 1/8 inch is ideal.
By starting with just half the onions and cooking them down a bit, you’ll have more room in the pot, which prevents a pile of fresh onions from cooling down the vessel to the point where they start to steam instead of caramelize, which is not the goal. You’re aiming to achieve a deep brown color and a consistency that’s almost sticky. It will take a solid 45 minutes, but it’s worth it.
Small dollops of goat cheese add an element of tartness to round out the richness of the onions and the pastry, while fried sage contributes a warming complexity. Just be sure to fry the sage in a high-sided saucepan and be cautious of splatter that will happen due to the leaves’ high water content.
This dish calls for a refreshing white wine that will liven it up without outshining the delicate flavors. I went with Caves Velhas Arinto Bucelas Bucellas 2017, from the Portuguese grape Arinto, here grown in the Bucelas appellation north of Lisbon; it reminded me of a Riesling for its minerality, orchard fruits and floral elements. The wine cut through the butteriness of the dough with just the right amount of acidity, and its floral notes brought out the sage.
With its balance of earthy flavors and refreshing tartness, this recipe is a great go-to any time of year. Serve it with a simple salad to upgrade the dish from guest-ready appetizer to a light yet satisfying weeknight dinner.
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tart with Fried Sage
Pair with a crisp white wine like Caves Velhas Arinto Bucelas Bucellas 2017 (87 points, $13) from Portugal.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 65 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 large yellow onions, sliced, about 1/8 inch thick
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 16- to 18-ounce box frozen puff pastry sheets
- 1 egg
- 6 tablespoons goat cheese
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 20 fresh sage leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large pot, heat butter on medium-high. Add about half of the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining onions and season generously with salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally to break up the rings and prevent burning, cook for about 10 minutes, until there’s some browning at the bottom of the pan.
2. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium low and remove puff pastry from the freezer to thaw.
3. Cook the onions for about 30 minutes more, stirring every few minutes, until they’re fully caramelized. Look for a rich brown color and an almost sticky consistency.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll each sheet of dough into a 10-inch-by-10-inch square. Lightly score them with a fork several times, leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges. In a small bowl, whisk egg with a teaspoon of water to create an egg wash and brush it around the 1-inch borders. Transfer the dough to parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Divide the onions between the two sheets of dough, spreading them out evenly but leaving the 1-inch borders. Dot each tart with 9 teaspoons of goat cheese. Bake until the dough is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.
5. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a small saucepan until smoking. Working in batches of a few leaves at a time, fry the sage for about 15 seconds until the leaves start to brown. Use tongs to transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain the excess oil. Top the finished tarts with fried sage leaves. Makes 2 tarts, about 8 appetizer portions or 4 entrée portions.