Caramelized Onion & Asparagus Tartlets
These caramelized onion and asparagus tartlets are the perfect dish to make for a weekend lunch/brunch. The crust is my classic pate brisee that I used to make when I was the pastry chef at LuLu. This version has gotten a healthy-ish makeover but is still perfectly tender and flaky. I’ve added a bit of whole wheat flour and chia seeds, and cut down on the butter by adding a bit of algae oil. If you aren’t already cooking with algae oil, I highly recommend you look into it. It’s a totally neutral tasting oil, similar to canola. But unlike canola, algae oil is rich in omega fatty acids. One tablespoons contains as much as 6 ounces of salmon or an entire avocado. It also has 75% less saturated fat than olive oil, though I still love olive oil, too. Most markets carry algae oil, but if you can’t find it, you can order it online. Just to clarify, because I know this sounds a bit like a sales pitch. I’ve worked with Thrive algae oil in the past, but no one is paying me to say this. I’m just passing on what I’ve learned to you.
Caramelized Onion & Asparagus Tartlets with a Chia Seed Crust
For the Chia Seed Crust:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chia seeds
5 ounces cold butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
2 tablespoons algae or olive oil
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons water, very cold
Grease eight 4” round individual tart pans or one 9” round tart pan. Combine the flours, salt and chia seeds in a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment. Add in the cubed butter all at once. It must be very cold. Mix on medium speed until the butter is in pebble size pieces. Pour in the oil, yolks, and water. Mix just until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4” thick. Line the greased tartlet shells and chill for at least one hour, or until ready to use. They can be refrigerated two days or frozen up to a month. If freezing, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
For the Filling:
2 cups yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons algae or olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup asparagus
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 cup Gruyere, grated
2/3 cup half & half
In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside. The onions can be caramelized and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese, eggs, half & half and pinch of salt. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Rinse and chop the asparagus. Toss into the boiling water and cook for one minute. Discard the water and set the asparagus aside.
To make the tartlets, preheat the oven to 375F. Blind bake the tart shells by lining each with parchment and then filling the center with dried beans. For a tutorial on blind baking, check out this video from BBC food. I like it because they use parchment instead of foil, which I think is much better. Plus, you get to listen to a British accent. Who doesn’t love that?
Blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. The tart shells don’t need to cool before being filled.
To fill, place one heaping tablespoon of caramelized onion into the bottom of each tart, sprinkle the asparagus and cheese on top. Then pour the egg mixture over it.
Return the tartlets to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the egg mixture has set.
Allow the tartlets to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding. If any of the egg mixture has seeped onto the sides, run a small pairing knife around the edges to prevent the tart shells from breaking before unmolding. Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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