April 24th, 2009


White Onion and Pecorino Tarts

Onions in general are one of my favourite vegetables. I love all the different varieties and seldom cook without onions. I love the natural sweetness and flavour trapped in each variety.

White onions have the sweet and mellow edge.

They make outstanding soups packed with amazing flavour. As spring is in full bud I thought a white onion and pecorino tart would be more appropriate.

The sharp salty pecorino complements the sweet mellowness of the white onion, this combination works a treat.

I have made small individual tarts as they add a finishing touch to the other dishes on the table.

This savoury short crust pastry recipe is another trusty old friend.  I double the recipe, divide the pastry in pieces and freeze the portion that I did not need on the day.

Personally I cannot stand egg custards tarts that taste of over cooked scramble eggs. For that reason I bake the tarts at 120°C for 35 minutes. It might seem like a long baking time but I hope that you agree that it’s well worth the effort.


Short Crust Pastry

  • 450g plain flour
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5g salt
  • 110g cold water

Weigh the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Cut the butter in small pieces and add the butter to the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. Ensure that all the butter is rubbed in and evenly distributed.

Add the ice cold water and use a pallet knife to cut the water into the flour.

Work fast and do not over work the pastry, as it will make the pastry grey.

Divide the pastry in two and press in squares.

Cover the pastry with cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

On a lightly floured work surface roll the pastry 3 – 4mm think out and use a 7cm in diameter cutter to cut the rounds.

I line the back of a muffin tray with the pastry to make the pastry cases for these tarts. It does look rustic and different from the pristine perfect tarts.

Blind bake the pastry for 20 minutes.

While the tart cases are baking make the custard filling.

White onion and pecorino tart filling

  • 3 white onions, peeled
  • 100g butter
  • 100ml oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 250g double cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 15g grain mustard
  • 3 whole large free-range eggs
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 30g pecorino, finely grated

Reduce the oven temperature to 120°C.

Cut 8 slices of white onion in 5mm thick slices, heat a non-stick frying pan and caramelise the onion slices on both sides with half the butter and seasoning. Set the caramelised onion slices aside.

Use a mandolin to slice the rest of the onions very finely.

Heat the rest of the butter and cook the finely sliced onions until transparent with no colour. Season lightly. I normally place a lid on the pan to prevent the onions from colouring.

Drain any access butter and liquid.

Add the cream and milk bring the mixture to the boil and let the cream infuse. Let it sit for approximately 20 minutes to infuse and maximise the flavour.

Whisk the eggs and add the eggs, grain mustard and finely grated pecorino to the cooled cream mixture mix well.

Place the tart cases now on the inside of the baking tray the right way up.


Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart cases to just below the rim, gently place a slice of the caramelised white onion on top of the egg custard.

Gently place the baking tray with the tarts in the preheated oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

Test the tarts by gently giving the tray a knock with the back of your hand if the tarts are still wobbling continue cooking until they are set.

Let the tarts cool on a wire cooling rack before serving.

I like to serve these tarts at room temperature with a swipe of white onion puree, a mixture of red chard, tahoon cress and a line of freshly finely grated pecorino.

Makes 8 tarts 7cm in diameter

Food Fanatics Tips

Parmesan Cheese is just as good if you do not have pecorino, alternatively use a soft but fairly strong cheese perhaps something in the line of a Goats cheese. My preference is a slightly acidic cheese as it complements the sweetness of the white onions.

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14 Comments to “White Onion and Pecorino Tarts”

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  1. Dana says:

    I love the look of those tart shells. What a brilliant idea – why have I never thought of that. I don’t have mini tart pans and it never occurred to me to try that. Gorgeous!

  2. Another gorgeous recipe and photo… kudos!

  3. Jessica says:

    I’ve never seen tart shells baked that way, but I like it! Can these tarts be made a day in advance?

  4. Madalene says:

    Hi Jessica, Thank you for your comment on my White Onion and Pecorino Recipe.
    Yes you can make the tarts a day in advance, I’d advise to keep them refrigerated and let them come to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.
    The pastry will not be as crispy as it would be when you eat them on the same day than made however still superbly delicious.
    Happy Baking!

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