This tart is super delicious--bacon, cheese, caramelized onions...what's not to love? It's also a fun variation on a quiche because although it has an egg component, the ratio of eggs to filling is much smaller than in a quiche recipe...so you end up with lots more filling. The crust is also really unique. It's a pesto-polenta crust made by preparing polenta, stirring in some pesto, and then pressing it into a 9-inch tart pan. Although it requires a little more "hands-on" time than a traditional pastry crust, the polenta crust contributes excellent flavor and a great texture. You can also throw in some veggies if you like--I like little cubes of zucchini sauteed in a little olive oil. Just keep all your ingredients fairly small so that it's easy to cut the slices.
Caramelized Onion-Bacon Tart (inspired by recipes at Eating Out Loud and Food Stories)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups polenta
3 T butter
1/4 cup prepared pesto
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
A splash of milk
A generous handful of grated Gruyere cheese
Freshly grated black pepper and/or other seasonings (I liked the Greek Seasoning from my Tastes Like Home partner)
Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
1. Prepare the crust: Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the polenta and reduce to a simmer. Stir with a wooden spoon and keep on stirring for 15-30 minutes...you want to stir until the polenta gets thick enough that it's quite hard to stir. (The original recipe said 30 minutes but I found that 15 worked just fine...but don't go any lower.)
2. Once the polenta is nice and thick, scrape it out onto a large piece of aluminum foil. Allow to cool slightly, then scrape into a large bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup prepared pesto and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Spread the polenta back onto the foil and let cool until it just starts to set but is still "mold-able". Press polenta into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom to make a crust about 1/4-inch thick. You'll use about half the polenta--so you can start with a half recipe or save the extra for another use (recipe to come tomorrow!) To save polenta, just scrape into a tupperware and press down to fit the container; chill until ready to use.
3. Bake the polenta crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
4. While the crust cools, make the filling: Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then lay the bacon out in one layer. Cook at 400 degrees until nice and crispy. Then cut into nice bite-sized pieces and let drain on paper towels.
5. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion and cook over medium-low heat with a bit of olive oil until soft and browned. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook until everything is nicely caramelized.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add the bacon, onion, Gruyere cheese, and lots of freshly ground black pepper; mix well. Pour the filling into the crust and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the center is set. After baking, the tart should be easy to pop out of the tart pan to serve.