Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Olive and Caramelized Onion Tart

I'm not gonna lie; this one is complicated! This is real French cooking, and I've been going for an hour and forty-five minutes and am finally sitting down to catch my breath while it's in the oven. But oh yeah, did I mention? This recipe is so fun I hardly know what to do with myself! And the taste at the end is the best part. So get ready to be a French chef. Un, deux, trois... cuisinez!

To make the dough, dissolve one packet of yeast (two and a half teaspoons, if you can't find it sold in packets) into 1/4 cup warm water. The water should be between 100 and 110 degrees, so for accuracy, I used a thermometer. Let stand for five minutes, then add another 1/2 cup (100 degree) water.

Spoon flour into measuring cups and level with a knife, to equal two cups total. Add the flour to the yeast mixture, along with two tablespoons soy milk (such as Silk plain flavor), one tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, and 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine (it will be sticky).

Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, and have another 1/4 cup of flour at the ready. Knead the dough for eight minutes, adding the remaining flour 1 tbsp. at a time as needed so that the dough doesn't stick to your hands. It will still be tacky at the end of the eight minutes tho!

I haven't had much success with getting dough to rise in the past, and I think it was because I was kneading wrong, so here are some simple, correct instructions. Use the heel of your palm to push the dough away from you. Fold the dough towards you. Turn it a quarter-turn. Repeat! Yup, that's eight minutes of Push, Fold, Turn, but hey, this way you can skip your bicep curls for the day.

Okay, so after eight minutes, shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so that the top of the dough is coated, too. Cover the bowl (a dish towel works well) and place in a spot free from drafts and ideally about 85 degrees. Let rise for 40 minutes. At the end, it should be doubled in size. A trick to know if it has risen enough is to push two fingers into the dough; if the indent stays, it's ready. You wouldn't believe the squeal of glee when I saw that my dough had properly risen this time - I kid you not. It's too bad I only have a camera and not a tape recorder.

While the dough is rising, your job is not done, French Chef! It's time to make the filling.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 9 cups vertically sliced onion (no that's not a typo, but don't worry - you're about to cook the hell outta 'em. Also, it helps to have these sliced and ready to go before your dough starts rising so the timing works out right). Along with the onions, add 3 chopped garlic cloves, another tsp. of chopped thyme and another 1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary. Cover the skillet and cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 have elapsed, uncover and reduce the heat to low, at which point your onions should already be golden brown and getting soft. Cook an additional 15 minutes at low heat, uncovered, until they are very soft and - yes - caramel brown. Then stir in 1 cup chopped, seeded tomato, and cook a final fifteen minutes (most of the liquid should be absorbed).

Remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped, pitted kalamata olives. Here, the recipe said to also add "two anchovy fillets, patted dry and mashed". Well! That wasn't going to work for this vegan, but I came up with a substitute I think works perfectly. Sun-dried tomatoes have that same saltiness as anchovies, are also sold in thin patties, and also come packed in oil. Use only one sun-dried tomato for this recipe, which is about the same size and caloric value as two anchovy fillets. Pat it dry firmly with paper towels, and then very finely mince it. You'll find that doing so makes it almost a "paste", just as the original recipe called for with the anchovies - brilliant! So add that in with the kalamata olives, and stir it all to combine.

Meanwhile, your dough is done rising (congratulations!). Punch it down, and let it sit for five minutes. Then, place it on a baking tray that you have coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with one tablespoon cornmeal. Shape into a rectangle that is 15x13 inches, and pinch the edges to form a rim.

Spoon your onion mixture onto the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch empty from the rim. Bake it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with 1/2 cup "goat cheese" (try the Mediterranean herb flavored soy feta from Sunergia: and with a dash of black pepper. Slice into 9 wedges.

Each wedge is 250 calories. You can serve this warm or at room temperature; a couple slices make it a vegan pizza night! Bien fait, Madame ou Monsieur le chef.

plain soy milk $1.49
fresh thyme $2,49
fresh rosemary $1.99
cornmeal $0.10 (yes, I really took ten cents worth from the bulk bin)
onions $2.99
tomato $3.00
kalamata olives $5.99
sun-dried tomatoes $2.99
soy feta $3.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance