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Roasted Onion, Fennel and Pesto Tart

RedOnionFennelTart48215Giselle: This recipe is a huge favourite of all the family, especially my mother, who really enjoys eating this tart as a sophisticated appetizer.

makes a 25cm (10 inch) tart

2 tablespoons butter, plus a little extra for greasing
6 red onions, quartered
3 large fennel bulbs, halved
1 drizzle of olive oil
1 thyme sprig
15g (1/2oz) caster sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten, to make an egg wash
3 tablespoons basil pesto
10g (1/4oz) toasted pine nuts
10g (1/4oz) Parmesan shavings
1 handful of basil leaves (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the shortcrust pastry:
225g (8oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
25g (1oz) cold butter, cubed
25g (1oz) lard, cubed
2 tablespoons cold water

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and lard and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the water and bring the dough together in your hands; but do not overwork it. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking tray with foil and grease a 25cm (10 inch) tart tin with butter. Place the chopped onions and fennel on the prepared baking tray and drizzle the oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme, then mix together. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the veggies start to brown on the edges but are not completely cooked. Keep the oven on.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then scatter the sugar into the pan. Throw in the vegetable chunks and mix around for 2–3 minutes until they are coated with a light caramel, then remove from the pan and leave to cool. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm (¼ inch) thick and use to line the prepared tart tin. Press the pastry into place before trimming off any excess pastry around the edges. Prick the base of the tart with a fork and brush all over with the beaten egg yolks.

Blind bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the tart, remove the baking beans, and carefully take the tart out of the tin. Leave to cool until the pastry is cool enough to handle. Elegantly arrange the roasted onions and fennel in the pastry case then dollop the pesto in the spaces in between.

Brush the rims again with the remaining egg wash and bake the tart in the oven for a further 10–15 minutes. Once all the vegetables are roasted and the pastry is brown, remove from the oven and sprinkle the pine nuts and Parmesan shavings on top while the tart is still warm. Serve with basil leaves scattered over the top, if liked.

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