Caramelized onions….mmmmm…a little sweet, a little sour, and just plain yummy. The apple butter, with its hint of cinnamon, the saltiness of the feta and the crispness of the bacon juxtaposed against the creaminess of the caramelized onions, makes for a perfect “storm” of flavor! This crôustade is easy, but caramelizing onions takes time…long, slow cooking will give you the best results. So be patient. You don’t need to pay too much attention to the process; keep the heat low and give the onions a good stir now and then. At times, I will caramelize a huge heap of onions, divide them into portions and freeze them. Then, you have them at hand. This crôustade goes together in a moment, if you use the pie pastry that comes in “rolls” in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. They are perfect for this sort of creation. I like to use a mixture of onions for this…Vidalia, leeks (or spring onions or scallions) and shallots are a nice combination. So, here’s the deal….
place the oil and onions in a skillet over medium heat. When the onions start to sizzle, turn the heat to low. Then, just let them do their magic. The onions will release some liquid, which will evaporate. They will begin to brown and start to soften. I usually cover them for the first 5-6 minutes. I find they break down faster and are less likely to burn.
When they’ve softened and browned a bit, add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and the water (or white wine), give it all a good stir and let the onions continue to cook until they are soft and unctuous. The whole process can take 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat source; let the onions cool to room temp. You can do this ahead of time, up to 2-3 days. Just pop them in the fridge, until you’re ready to use them. When you are ready to make the crôustade, remove the pastry from the fridge. It’s easier to unroll, if the pastry sits on the counter for about 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Unroll the pastry and place on a flat pan…a 12-inch pizza pan works great. Plop the apple butter in the middle and using the back of a spoon, smear it into an even layer, leaving about a 2-inch border. Place the caramelized onions in the center, covering the apple butter completely. Sprinkle the feta and bacon evenly over the onions. Carefully bring the sides of the pastry up, “pleating” them evenly. The center should remain open, about 5-6 inches. Place in the preheated oven; bake for 18-20 minutes or until pastry browns. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. This is excellent served at warm room temperature. It’s nice as an appetizer, cut into thin wedges. Serve with soup, like the Creamy White Bean-Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Garlic or with a green salad, as a first course.
This is a very, very flexible recipe. You can change the apple butter to blueberry or fig preserves or orange marmalade. You can add fresh herbs, like thyme, rosemary or basil to the cooled onions mixture. Use bleu cheese or brie, instead of the feta. Use prosciutto instead of the bacon…any and all of these options are delicious.
Caramelized Three-Onion Crôustade with Apple Butter, Feta and Bacon
- 1 purchase pie pastry (from the refrigerated section of the supermarket)
- 1 medium Vidalia-type onion, thinly sliced
- 3 spring onions or green garlic, including some of the green part, finely chopped
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water (or white wine or beer)
- Kosher salt
- 2-3 tablespoons apple butter
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 slices pre-cooked bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, and all three onions; when the onions begin to sizzle, turn the heat to low. Cover and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes; the onions should be softened at this point. Add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and the water (or white wine), give it all a good stir and let the onions continue to cook until they are soft and unctuous, about 15 to 20 minutes in total. Remove the pan from the heat source; let the onions cool to room temp.
About 10 minutes before you’re ready to prepare the crôustade, remove the pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Unroll the pastry and place on a flat pan; a 12-inch pizza pan is perfect. Drop the apple butter in the middle of the pastry; using the back of a spoon, smear it into an even layer, leaving about a 2-inch border. Place the cooled caramelized onions in the center, pushing to evenly cover the apple butter. Sprinkle the feta evenly over the onions. Carefully bring the sides of the pastry up, “pleating” them evenly, leaving the center area open, about 5-6 inches. Place the bacon pieces evenly over the opening. Place the pan in the preheated oven; bake for 18-20 minutes or until pastry browns. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and serve at warm room temperature.
Caramelized Three-Onion Crôustade with Apple Butter, Feta and Bacon Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.