caramelised onion, fetta & ćevapčići tart

February 13, 2014

I eat a lot of onion. I add brown onion to most savoury cooked dishes and I grow (an abundance of) green onions in my vege patch which are a great, subtle raw addition to all my salads. In addition to the fact that I especially love caramelised onions and how they become almost sweet when you cook them slowly, when I hear them mentioned or see them on a menu I remember back to a (first) date I went on a couple of years back. We decided to meet at a pub for a drink after work, and after a couple of wines and chats I suggested we get something for dinner. It was “pizza” night at the pub so I suggested we get a pizza to share. This is how the conversation went:

  • Me: “Is there anything you don’t eat?” 
  • Him: “I eat everything.”
  • Me: “How about we share the “Cajun chicken, caramelised onion, roasted capsicum and rocket salsa” pizza?
  • Him: “Ewwwwwww. Caramelised onion…”
  • Me: “Haha…….” <hoping to observe from him an ‘I’m being sarcastic’ wink/reaction. Alas……>
  • Me: “Really…?”
  • Him: “I hate caramelised onions.” <then he did that shiver; the one you do when you walk through a spider web and fear that there may be a spider on you.>

Tumbleweeds.

I can’t remember what we actually ordered, suffice to say that I think I unashamedly decided right then that there wouldn’t be a 2nd date. How can anyone have such a strong aversion to the wonderment that is caramelised onions?! 

In addition to being a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fibre, it’s the large amounts of sulphur in onions that will make you cry when cutting them, but also means they are especially good for your liver. They also contain “flavonoids“, which act as antioxidants and can boost your immune system. Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral, onions also have a number of ‘heart-healthy’ properties, and are reported to have the following ‘heart’ benefits:

  • boost (good) HDL cholesterol
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower blood sugar
  • lower triglycerides 
  • retard blood clotting

Some recent reports* have suggested that we could benefit from eating 1 medium sized onion daily to achieve the maximum health benefits for our heart and immune system.

I’m particularly excited by this recipe as I now know a super easy way to make a sturdy, crunchy grain-free short-crust tart/pizza base. You can easily omit the anchovy and ćevapčići if you want to make it vegetarian. The first time I made this I had a lonely ćevapčići sausage in the fridge which I added it at the last minute. I decided to keep it in the recipe as a little nod to my Serbian heritage (and because they taste so damn good with caramelised onions).

To my delight, my trusty flatty/taste-tester-extraordinaire/discerning food critic and fellow real food fan, Dara (from Byzantine Design and Salty Popcorn) reported that this was one of the best things she’d tasted in a while! To which I replied with gusto and pride, ‘Thanks! I agree! Let’s make this one every week.”  

Makes: 1 x 9 inch tart. To serve 4 for an entrée / side dish for a main. Also makes 16 squares for pre-dinner snacks).

ingredients

base

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ cup medium/hard organic cheese, finely grated (e.g.Swiss, cheddar, gruyere, Jarlsberg, etc.)
  • 3 Tbsp butter (preferably organic) / melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

tart filling

  • 3 or 4 medium-large brown onions
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter / melted coconut oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped (can omit if vegetarian, or swap for ¼ sea salt or a tsp of tamari)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (I use half/half rosemary and oregano but any herbs you like will be great)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar if you don’t have apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 grass-fed ćevapčići (skinless sausage – can omit if vegetarian, or just squeeze the meat from a good quality (preferably grass-fed/organic) meat sausage)
  • 1 Tbsp organic fetta

method

  1. Slice your onions first and let them sit on your chopping board while you prepare the base (read my tip as to why under ‘Health’ on my ‘cooking tips’ page)
  2. For the base: mix the almond meal, salt and cheese together in a large mixing bowl, then add in the butter and egg and mix until all the ingredients are well-combined and the mixture forms a doughy lump
  3. Lightly grease a spring-form tin then press the crust mixture into the bottom with your finger tips until the dough is evenly covering the base and a little up the sides. Set aside until the filling is ready
  4. Pre-heat oven to 180°C
  5. For the filling: heat a large fry-pan to medium heat then add the oil, butter and sliced onions. The idea is to cook them slowly on a medium heat (i.e. if they start catching on the bottom of the pan the heat is too high)
  6. After about 10 minutes, add your anchovies, garlic and herbs to the onions and give everything a good mix
  7. Ensure the mixture is spread along the bottom of the pan and let the mixture cook for another 20 minutes (without stirring), until the onion are golden and the mixture reduced down by about a third
  8. Add in the pepper and vinegar and stir well to combine 
  9. Let it cook for another few minutes or so until the vinegar reduces down a bit
  10. To assemble the tart: Tip the onion mixture into the base and spread it out evenly
  11. Break up your ćevapčići into small chunks and scatter over the onion mixture
  12. Crumble your fetta over the tart
  13. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes until your fetta has browned on top.
  14. Serve hot or cold

These will store in the fridge for up to a week.

*References

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11 Comments

  • Reply Doug February 13, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Caramelized onions are sweet and buttery, soft and kind of slippery. They are mellow and full of deep, rich, sweet flavor—slightly nutty and the perfect accompaniment to, well, anything.

    You’ve made one of my flavour profiles Sal. So delicious. Bravo, and thanks for a great base!

  • Reply sassybites February 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

    You’re welcome Douggie! Any recipe suggestions / ideas – please let me know! xS

  • Reply AndrewG February 13, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Sal this looks amazing, but I fear a dairy-free version won’t work so probably won’t get a chance to make this just for me… Also this is the first time I’ve read your cooking tips page as well – great stuff! You will now also be associated with onions.

    Speaking of, I love caramelized onions (even if my spell checker insists I spell it the wrong way) and look forward to our second date 🙂

    • Reply sassybites February 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      Hey Griff – dairy-free would totally work! Just swap out the butter for coconut oil. And re the cheese, that was just my little extravagance and can totally just be left out 🙂

      • Reply AndrewG February 14, 2014 at 1:55 am

        Ripper I will give it a shot (just had visions of the failed cauliflower pizza crust with the vegan cheese)

  • Reply Cathy Macdonald February 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I always enjoy the stories you write with your recipes. This one really made me giggle! Looking forward to trying this one out! I love caramelised onion

    • Reply sassybites February 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks Cathy! Let me know how it goes when you get a chance to make it! xS

  • Reply trimmymilf February 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    i couldn’t agree more that with “the wonderment that is caramelised onions”.. so delicious.. glad you didn’t pursue that second date.. i don’t think i would have approved.. 😉

    i miss your delicious home-cooked delights.. xo

    • Reply sassybites February 13, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Ahhh Trimbo – home-cooked delights coming your way next Tuesday night! xS

      • Reply trimmymilf February 13, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        yessssssss..

  • Reply Emily Walsh August 14, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Made this last night in Paris for 2 vegetarians and it was a hit! I feared that the base might be too dense but in fact it was lovely and biscuity. So tasty with the fennel seeds, garlic etc. I’m planning to make it again this weekend for a summer picnic. Thanks for the winning recipe!

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