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Oct 31, 2005 03:23 PM

Savory rustic tart w/ onions, pancetta, emmenthaler, and sage

  • c

Made this savory tart (pictured below) as an appetizer to start off a multi-course dinner, but it would be great w/ a salad for dinner or as part of a brunch meal.

I have been churning out different versions of savory tarts on a regular basis after being won over by a dough recipe by Paul Bertolli in the SF Chronicle Cookbook (vol. 1 w/ the yellow cover). It is the easiest recipe ever and is made w/ a bowl and one's need to drag out the processor or mixer!

I also like that it isn't loaded w/ lots of butter (only 2.5 TB). As such, it's not flakey but more stiff and crunchy w/ a little bit of chew. Sort of like a non-yeast pizza dough. Very easy to handle. His recipe uses sauteed leeks, fresh herbs, white cheddar, and tomato rounds, but the variations are infinite and I liked my version w/ pancetta better.

Here's the dough recipe paraphrased: In a bowl, mix together 2.5 TB finely cubed, chilled unsalted butter w/ 1 c. of AP flour til flour has coated the butter cubes. Add a good pinch of salt. Run your fingers through the mixture to break up and incorporate til it looks like granola. Using 5 TB of ice water, slowly incorporate into butter-flour mixture til it just comes together but isn't wet or sticky. You don't have to use up all the water. If dough is too sticky, then sprinkle in a little more flour. Gently knead to just bring the dough together, shape into a disc, dust w/ flour, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 min., ideally 90 min.

Roll out dough to about 11-13", depending on how thick you want the crust. Move to baking sheet that's been dusted w/ flour or cornmeal. You can also bake directly on pizza stone. Leave a 1" perimeter around edge, and brush bottom w/ a little EVOO. Add toppings in this order: sauteed (not caramelized) onions, chopped sage, grated emmenthaler cheese (gruyere or swiss would be fine alternatives), pancetta (or bacon), black pepper. Fold up edges and brush on a little EVOO. You can use any toppings, but soften/wilt most veggies first and add fresh herbs underneath the top layer so they don't burn.

Bake in 400F oven til crust is golden brown and cheese has melted, about 30-40 min. Remove from oven and let rest on the pan to crisp bottom further. Finish w/ any fresh herbs if you'd like. Slice into wedges and serve. Hope you enjoy it and are inspired to create your own variations!


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  1. That does sound like a good dough recipe. I too have been making a lot of tarts lately. I've been doing variations of the epicurious wild mushroom and gruyere tart. Basically, I make a base of ricotta and shredded parmesan, and from there I've added mushrooms and thyme, or heirloom tomatoes and basil, or roasted eggplant and sausage.

    The problem I keep running into with tart making is that I'm essentially always stopping myself from making a really good pizza. I always want to put on pizza-like ingredients instead of tart-like ingredients. The emmenthaler and onions definitely seems more tart-like and I may have to give that a try.

    1. This looks very interesting.I've been in a tart-eating sort of mood. I think it's the weather.

      I've been playing around with various buttermilk and cream cheese doughs, due to a strange daily fixation I'm currently battling. I really need to do a side-by-side taste comparison to decide which is best. I think I will do a bake-off,and throw this one into the mix. See what happens. It might just boil down to personal taste.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Kate

        What do you think would happen to the texture if I used buttermilk in place of the water? The only issue that I have w/ this dough is that it can be a little tough sometimes. I make sure not to overwork the dough, but its minimal fat and lack of yeast coupled w/ the fact that I like a really golden crust may contribute to toughness. Am thinking that buttermilk will give it some tenderness and character w/o adding more fat.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          My crust doesn't contain water - just buttermilk.So I assume having buttermilk instead of water won't make the crust worse. I am a big fan of buttermilk, especially in baking. I think it's definitely worth a try. My one thought is that since your recipe calls for cold water,make sure you use the buttermilk directly from the fridge.

          Please let us know how it goes.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            I know you said you aren't looking to add fat, but would you consider adding an egg? Would make for a very golden crust, probably (?) tenderize it a bit. I'm not sure how much you would need to cut back on water, but a check of your cookbooks combined with some experimentation might get you something you liked. Just a thought.

            p.s. had a failed caramel experiment last Friday night that I've been meaning to post on (with pics, no less!). Sigh, that's what I get for taking martha's name in vain.

            1. re: smokey

              I've made the MS recipe every year for 10 years--perfect buttery caramel.
              (curious to find out what went wrong :)

              1. re: Funwithfood

                Sorry, my post wasn't very clear. i didn't use the Martha recipe. i took her name in vain in response to your suggestion of her recipe and thought I could do a DIY approach successfully. Was just joking that my (failed) approach was a karmic rebuttal.

                1. re: smokey

                  You are a brave person to improvise with 240 degree boiling liquid!

              2. re: smokey

                An egg is a good idea too...Could add a beaten egg before adding enough water for it to come together. Will have to compare w/ the buttermilk idea. Here I go again tweaking recipes...

                Sorry to hear the caramel improvisation didn't work too well. At least you answered your own question. I feel so guilty but I didn't have enough time to make the caramel apples after all b/c I baked a cake and made pumpkin ice cream. I was going to try making them w/ my niece and nephews after dinner, but it didn't really pan out. I've saved the recipe, Funwithfood, and will try it soon, I promise!!