By Erin Walgamuth
My girlfriends and I try to get together at my house every few months for a "Ladies Night". The menu, the refreshing adult beverages and the ladies change from gathering to gathering. We always have a wonderful time with lots of laughter and great conversation. I make a special play list from my iTunes library to suit the group. This always results in spontaneous dancing, and consequently some pretty funny photos. When I close the front door behind my last guest to leave, I feel tremendous gratitude for such a lovely evening and for such fabulous friends.
This savory tart is a favorite and I cut it into slices like you would pizza. A glass of red wine compliments this starter nicely but I have also served martinis with nary a complaint.
My family and I had the tart for dinner last night with a green salad. It was delish!
This is a 9" tart, the amount of servings will depend on how you cut it.
Red Onion and Goat Cheese Rustic Tart with Garlic and Basil crust
1 cup of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons of cold butter cut into pieces
½ teaspoon of dried basil
¼ teaspoon of powdered garlic
2 ½ - 3 tablespoons ice water
Put flour, sugar, basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse ten times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse about 22 times to incorporate butter. Add ice water and pulse about 15- 20 times until mixture holds together.
Empty contents of food processor onto a 12" piece of plastic wrap. Gather dough into a ball and then flatten into a round disk with the palm of your hand. Fold plastic wrap over dough to seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
1 large red onion - about 1 pound which will yield approximately 4 cups
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Fig Balsamic vinegar
4 Black Mission Figs, stems removed and coarsely chopped, which yields about ¼ cup
3 pinches of salt
1/3 cup goat cheese at room temperature. I like Trader Joe's Chevre as it has a mild taste and spreads well.
Egg wash: 1 large egg yolk, whisked with ½ teaspoon of water
14" piece of parchment paper
Peel onion, cut off ends and cut in half length wise. Cut each half into thin slices length wise. Cut thin slices into thirds. Take pastry out of the refrigerator and set on kitchen counter. Melt butter in a heavy bottom, 11-12 inch sauté pan on medium-low to medium heat. Add onions and stir to incorporate butter. Cook onions, stirring occasionally until onions soften and start to brown (about 7 to 9 minutes). Add salt, thyme and fig and stir to incorporate for about 1 minute. Add sugar and stir to incorporate for about 1 minute. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to incorporate for another 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest while you roll out the dough.
Roll pastry out to a 10" circle on the parchment paper and transfer to a baking sheet. I use a 14x16 inch Airbake baking sheet. Trim any parchment that is hanging off the edge of the baking sheet. Using an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon), spread goat cheese into an 8" circle in the middle of the pastry. Pour onion mixture onto goat cheese and spread evenly to a 9" circle. Fold edges of pastry over onion mixture. Brush pastry with egg wash. Bake tart on middle rack of oven for about 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool for about 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.
If you like, you can make the pastry the day before you wish to serve the tart and store in the refrigerator. You can also make the onion mixture the day before and store in the refrigerator in a food storage container. Bring onion mixture to room temperature, and then warm in the microwave on reheat before you assemble the tart.
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.