Legend has it that puff pastry was invented in response to a strict diet. Nowadays, it’s humorous to think of the light, flaky pastry made delicious by a lavish abundance of butter as “diet food.” In 1645, however, French pastry apprentice Claudius Gele was quite serious in his quest to produce a tasty loaf of bread for his sick father, who was limited to a diet of flour, butter, and water. The result of his hard work was no ordinary loaf, but something golden and crisp and puffed with air. His pastry grew famous and so began a journey that would span centuries before landing in the grocer’s freezer.
Thanks to the miracles of modern science, frozen puff pastry makes it possible to enjoy Gele’s magnificent discovery on a weeknight. The pastry is an elegant but unfussy base for a goat cheese and allium tart. Buttery and flaky, it balances the sweet onions and the tangy chevré. The colors of the alliums—deep magenta that will caramelize into an earthy purple-brown and bright grass green—feel fitting for the month when winter and spring play tug-of-war. The whole tart comes together easily, with time for you to open a bottle of wine, light a candle, toss a salad. Tarts and quiches have fallen out of fashion as new diet trends elbow each other for the spotlight, but the restorative power of a simple vegetable tart served with a peppery arugula salad should not be overlooked. After all, it’s diet food.
Caramelized Onion and Leek Tart
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
5 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 sheet puff pastry (thawed, if frozen)
¼ c. heavy whipping cream
4 oz. herb & garlic goat cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
2–3 green onions, very thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Unfold puff pastry sheet on a lightly-floured surface and roll into a 12” x 4” rectangle. Place the pastry on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat 3 Tbs. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add thinly-sliced onions and cook slowly for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Deglaze the pan with white balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for another 10–15 minutes until onions are limp and deep brown. Transfer to a bowl.
- Meanwhile, in another skillet, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil and add sliced leeks. Sauté for 10–15 minutes until the leeks have softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper; then stir in crumbled goat cheese and heavy cream until combined.
- Spoon leek and cheese mixture over the prepared puff pastry, spreading evenly. Top with the caramelized onions and scatter with Parmesan cheese. Fold edges of the pastry up, pinching corners closed, to create a crust.
- Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until puff pastry is a deep golden brown. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with arugula salad.