Caramelized Apple and Onion Crostata

Dsc01680 When we first moved into our house, a little over four years ago, we planted three tiny rosemary bushes in the backyard.  Today, they are the backyard.  O.K., so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the rosemary has become enormous, taking over one side of the patio, and the more that we trim it, the faster it seems to grow.  Whoever said that nothing thrives in the desert was likely not a grower of this fragrant Mediterranean herb.

Because I have such an abundance of rosemary, I try to work it into recipes whenever I can.  I love being able to go out back and cut a few fresh sprigs to add to my cooking.  It almost makes me feel like the Barefoot Contessa, who on her Food Network show is always picking herbs, vegetables, and flowers from her East Hamptons garden.  True, she has a bit more to choose from, buy hey, I’ll take what I can get! 

This is a recipe that I have had filed for some time now in my massive "Recipes to Try" folder.  I think that the original was from Martha’s magazine, but I have altered it a bit.  I really like the idea of making savory tarts or crostata.  They are almost like a pizza, but with a very thin buttery and flaky crust, like that of a pie.  This recipe works my rosemary into the dough, along with some pungent Gruyere cheese and, of all things, grated parsnip.  Yes, it’s a bit unconventional as far as pastry ingredients go, but this mild and often overlooked vegetable adds a subtle natural sweetness to the crust.  The filling is both tart and sweet, with a bit of salty tangy cheese layered in for good measure.  are my tips for theses caramelized crostata:

  • The Rosemary-Gruyere crostata dough can be refrigerated for up to two days, tightly wrapped.  Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes prior to rolling.  The apple-onion mixture can be prepared one day in advance.
  • The number of onions that you use for this recipe really depends on their size ("medium" can vary).  I stopped slicing onions when I had enough mixture to fill up my largest skillet.  The apple and onion mixture will cook down considerably over the caramelization process, so Dsc01675 you can also add more onions as more room becomes available.
  • If you prefer a less tart apple, use Gala, which is much sweeter and milder.
  • For making the seven-inch rounds from the rolled out crostata dough, I used a seven-inch diameter bowl and inverted it.  This kept all of the circles uniform.
  • You can also make smaller mini-crostata out of this recipe.  Cut several 4-inch circles and then follow the directions, dividing the cheese, onion mixture, and changing the baking time as needed.
  • Instead of transferring half of the onion apple mixture to a processor or blender for pureeing, you can always pulse it with an immersion blender.
  • Try using Manchego, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese in place of the Gruyere.

Caramelized Apple and Onion Crostata

Makes 6 Six-Inch Tarts

Ingredients:

Rosemary-Gruyere Dough

1 small parsnip, peeled

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

12 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup ice water

Apple-Onion FillingDsc01673

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick

6 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Prepare dough:  Finely grate the parsnip so that you have about 1/2 cup.  Stand over a sink and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the parsnip, flour, salt, sugar, pepper, butter, cheese, and rosemary.  Add the yolk and pulse to combine.  With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow stream, processing until the dough just comes together.  Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dsc01676 Prepare the filling:  Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples and onions and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until very soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the vinegar and salt and cook for 5 minutes.  Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch thick circle.  Cut out six 7-inch rounds, gathering scraps and re-rolling the dough as necessary.  Place the rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Puree half of the apple-onion mixture in a food processor until smooth.  Spread about 3 tablespoons of the puree over each of the dough rounds, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.  Sprinkle each with about 2 tablespoons of the cheese.  Season with pepper.  Top each with a few tablespoons of the remaining apple-onion mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Fold the edges of the dough in, crimping with your fingers.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Bake the crostata until the edges are golden brown, about 40-45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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