Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Watercress Tart by Susan Palmer

By Susan Palmer: Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

Sweet caramelized onions, tangy goat cheese and peppery watercress are all tucked into buttery puff pastry for a simple, yet elegant meal.  If you ask me, there’s no better meal than one that starts with puff pastry. This tart is deceptively easy to put together and perfect for a summer party to serve to a crowd or a light meal for yourself with a simple green salad on the side. The most time consuming aspect of this recipe is caramelizing those sweet onions, which can easily be prepared ahead of time or in your slow cooker or pressure cooker for a hands off method.

Since I look to keep cooking as easy as possible – with those caramelized onions being my onion exception – I love how easy it is to work with watercress.  Unlike other leafy greens such as swiss chard, kale or collards – watercress cooks down in just a minute or two.  Toss it in at the end of a stir fry, mix it up with a bowl of pasta or in this case use the residual heat from caramelized onions to cook it down to fill these puff pastry tarts.

With our main filling completed, the rest is as easy as 1-2-3.  Simply cut puff pastry rounds out with a cookie cutter, spread a layer of goat cheese, then your onion and watercress filling, a sprig of thyme and into the oven it goes! I like to top it off with a small bunch of raw watercress for extra crunch and color at the end.  I like to think of this recipe as just a start! Go have fun and toss in any of these add-ins for a heartier tart or just because they are delicious: sauteed onions, crispy bacon, a fried egg or roasted tomatoes.  Serving a bigger crowd? Skip cutting the puff pastry into rounds and just roll it out into a square and serve in small pieces.

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet or Vidalia onion
4 cups watercress
4 ounces garlic and herb goat cheese, softened
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 sheet thawed puff pastry
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

DIRECTIONS
  1. Remove the outer layer from the onion, cut the ends and thinly slice.  In a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium heat drizzle 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and cook the onions for 6-8 minutes or until they begin to soften and start to take on just a little bit of color. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the onions are caramelized and a nice medium golden brown color.  Onions can be caramelized in advance and refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.  If preparing in advance warm up in a saute pan before wilting the watercress.
  2. Once the onions have been caramelized add the watercress and wilt down for 1-2 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Heat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  4. Place the thawed but chilled puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out slightly.  Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut out 4 rounds.  Reserve scrapes for another use.
  5. Spread 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of each round, leaving ¼ of ½ inch of space around the edges.  Divide the filling between the 4 rounds, top each with a sprig of thyme and then use the egg wash to brush the edges of the puff pastry.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is a golden brown color. Remove the sprig of thyme and top each pastry with the remaining cup of watercress.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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