French Lavender, Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tarts

BY RUKMINI IYER

These tarts are just the thing for a relaxed weekend potter about the kitchen. Leave the onions to slowly caramelise by themselves while you get on with the pastry, and use goat’s cheese or feta to finish the tarts off. You can make one large tart or several small ones for the week ahead - they reheat beautifully. 

Start off by thickly slicing six red onions, then melt 25g butter in a large pan with a little oil to stop it from burning. Once you’ve got the pan nice and hot, tip in the onions, mix them thoroughly with the hot butter, and let them cook on high for about six to ten minutes until very lightly browned at the edges. Then turn the heat right down, and add two teaspoons of dried lavender flowers, one teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary, a big pinch of sea salt and a grind of black pepper. Stir the mixture well, then leave it uncovered to cook for about half an hour. As with a french onion soup, you want a lovely caramelized layer to form underneath the onions, so once you’ve given it that initial stir, resist the temptation to prod at it over the next thirty minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200C. For the pastry, follow my recipe and instructions for blind baking pastry cases in my previous post here, to make one large or several small tart cases.

For the filling, whisk 150g creme fraiche with 3 eggs in a jug, and season. Give the onions a good stir after half an hour, check for seasoning, and allow them to cool a little. Fill your cooled, blind baked pastry cases with the onion mixture, then generously crumble either goat’s cheese or feta over the onions. Carefully pour the creme fraiche filling over the onions, then bake the tarts in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the filling has just set, and the tops are golden brown. You don’t want to overcook the filling, so if it wobbles gently after 20 minutes but hasn’t browned, take the tarts out and flash them quickly under a hot grill. These go beautifully with a watercress salad and roasted honey parsnips.