Being at home during the day with a small baby, I love listening to talk back radio and my favourite radio show host is Jon Faine on the ABC. He is intelligent, provocative, amusing and compassionate. While I enjoy the robust political debate, I love the quirky things I hear too. Last week he was talking about how much he loves doing the dishes. What a guy! Following on from this admission, his guest, Mick Thomas, recited a poem his mum had above the kitchen sink when he was young. It goes like this:
Thank God for dirty dishes. They have a tale to tell. While others may go hungry we're eating very well. With home, health, and happiness, I shouldn't want to fuss; By the stack of evidence, God's been very good to us.
I had never heard it before but I love the sentiment of dishes telling the story of the meal. Our dishes from last weekend would have displayed a confetti of pastry flakes in a smear of vinaigrette. I guess, that tells is of a cook who likes to indulge and try to stay healthy at the same time. Isn’t that the story of my life!
In fact, I don’t often cook with puff pastry because I think it will be heavy but the red onion, feta and olive tart that I made was quite light. Possibly because it wasn’t so full of cream and eggs but also it might be that, because I used ready-rolled pastry, it was only half the weight of that suggested in the recipe.
By the way, I always thought puff pastry was made with butter and was surprised that our supermarket has a special ‘butter’ puff pastry. I bought this because it had half the ingredients of that in the regular puff pastry.
I found this recipe for Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart in the BBC Good Food Magazine cookbook called 101 Veggie Dishes. I first made it a few years back when friends came over for dinner. Served with a pumpkin and tahini salad, it went down a treat. Tarts seem like great food for entertaining because they make an attractive centre to a meal and a buttery pastry always seems indulgent. The BBC website also suggests these would make good appetisers if cut into smaller pieces.
When I finally managed to make the tart again last weekend, I was a little concerned that the reality spoil the memory. Perhaps I only loved it because we had a great night with Kim and Jo. But it was every bit as delicious and appealing. The sweetness of the caramelised onion and salty olives paired perfectly. The darkness of the onion and olives contrasted pleasingly with the white feta. The pastry was light and flaky. It is easy to make and reheats nicely if you keep leftovers for a second night.
The recipe says to serve it with a green salad but I felt the meal needed more vegetables. I made a salad a bit like this one. On the first night I served it with rocket, baby spinach, roasted pumpkin, sun dried tomatoes and pinenuts. The second night I felt the salad needed more oomph and added chickpeas.
I noticed that Johanna of the Passionate Cook is hosting Waiter There’s Something in My … Event and this month the theme is Bistro Classics. She describes the food as ‘simple, hearty and bursting with flavour’. I am not sure how hearty this tart is but it is simple and flavoursome, and so often vegetarians are offered pastry dishes when eating out in cafes and pubs that I thought this was appropriate.
Red Onion, Feta and Olive Tart
(from BBC Good Food 101 Veggie Recipes)
2 large red onions, sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
450g puff pastry (I used 270g)
100g feta cheese, crumbled
175g black olives, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh herbs to garnish
Preheat oven to 200 C.
Melt butter in a frypan and fry onion in it for about 10-15 minutes with a pinch of salt until onions are soft and caremalised. Stir in sugar and vinegar and simmer about 5 minutes until the liquid thickens slightly and becomes syrupy. Cool slightly.
Roll out pastry (if your pastry isn’t ready rolled) and line a greased 30 x 22 cm swiss roll tin. Spread onion mixture on pastry. Scatter olives and feta over the onions. Drizzle olive oil over the tart.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (it took me 30 minutes) until pastry is golden and puffy at the sides. Serve hot with salad.
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