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cauliflower and caramelized onion tart

March 29, 2010

Generally when I think of mascarpone cheese, I think of tiramisu, so when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for a cauliflower and caramelized onion tart.  I was excited at the chance to use it in a savory recipe.  I was even more excited to eat it once baked.  It made the perfect dinner, lunch and then lunch again each with a nice leafy salad.  That’s right…three meals out of this bad boy.  I made tiny adjustments (one of them accidental) to the original recipe, but I’m sure any way you fix this tart it’ll come out lovely.

Cauliflower and caramelized onion tart (the whole title wouldn’t fit in the picture)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


  • 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust*
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (7- to 8- ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • salt

*KC note:  Given my imperfect German skills, I purchased flaky pastry dough NOT pie crust.  This was a mistake.  Please, please make sure you buy pie crust.


Roast cauliflower

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F.
  2. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets.  I find the best tool for this is just one of my small, serrated paring knives.
  3. In a shallow bowl, lightly toss cauliflower with 1 1/2 tbsps olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
  4. Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes total, checking in at 15 minutes to turn the florets.  Your aiming for nicely browned, but not burnt.
  5. Set aside and allow to cool before cutting them into thin slices (this makes layering much easier)

Parbake the crust

  1. Line pie tin with foil and parchment paper (I almost always use parchment paper to avoid any chance of stickiness).
  2. Take pie crust (or flaky pastry dough, in my case, unfortunately) and press it onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom.  KC note:  This would have not only been better, but EASIER had I purchased a pie crust.  As you can see, I didn’t just get flaky pastry dough, I got rectangular flaky pastry dough.  Below is the before and after.



  3. Line crust with foil, fill with pie weights and bake 20 minutes. A bag of black beans is my go-to choice for pie weights.
  4. Remove foil and weights then bake until crust is golden, about 5 additionally minutes. Press crust back with the back of a fork if bubbles form.
  5. Remove crust from over a allow to cool crust, but maintain oven temperature.

Caramelizing the onions

  1. While your crust is baking, take this time to caramelize the onions.  It’s easy, but it does take time.
  2. Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat.  Important: don’t go over medium-low heat.  There’s no cheating on this one (as I’ve learned).  Slow and steady wins this race.
  3. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until onion is a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally.  This took me a total of 40 minutes, but best just to stick close, stirring away and checking for the perfect color.

Assembling the tart

  1. Using the back of a spoon or a pastry brush, brush 1 tbsp of good quality Dijon mustard to the crust.  Although I’m not a big mustard fan, this really added something to the tart.
  2. Now, layer the onion evenly over the mustard covered base.
  3. Add the chopped up cauliflower to the pile.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, mascarpone, cream and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in Gruyère.  (KC note:  I would add a little salt in here as well.  I didn’t the first time around, but felt it would have benefited from some)
  5. Pour mixture over filling in tart pan, sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts.
  6. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 40 minutes or until the center seems set.
  7. Allow to cool (it’s tough, I know, but you can do it)
  8. Enjoy!
10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2010 1:16 pm

    Gorgeous! Thanks for Sharing.

    • April 26, 2010 1:23 pm

      Anytime! Although, it tastes even better than it looks, so bake away 🙂

  2. Anna permalink
    July 15, 2010 1:23 am

    This looks scrumpty-dumpty! I will try it this fall. Thanks for posting!

    • July 15, 2010 9:32 am

      You absolutely should! It’s one of my favorites. I love a recipe that only becomes better as leftovers.

  3. Ana permalink
    March 2, 2011 10:21 pm

    Phe. Nom. Enal.
    I think I could live on this–thanks so much for making this easy as pie. Je l’aime beacoup!

    • March 2, 2011 11:35 pm

      This is one of our favs too. Despite the need to bake it, I love it in warmer weather because I think it’s fantastic for picnics. Ah, warm weather. I think we’ve almost forgotten what those two words next to each look like!


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