Before I mention any of the healthy attributes of this recipe, I would first like to say that my testers (thank you to my fabulous friends for joining me for dinner on a cold Saturday night!) both agreed that the crust of this first tart should also be served on its own as savory cookie-like biscuits. THAT is a bomb-ass compliment if ever there was one, especially since both of these chicas are passionate kitchenistas themselves – and it is a VEGAN AND PALEO recipe. Whaaaaaaaat?!?!?!
So, sticking to my commitment of writing 5 recipes a week for my blog, I tucked myself in the other night with a wish for warm winter inspiration – with seasonal ingredients that I already had on hand. Hey – I love blogging, but I’m fiscally conscious, too! I remembered this amazing caramelized carrot risotto that I’d made from a recipe in Sunset, and happened to have about 10lbs of organic red onions (which I sometimes refer to as giant shallots) left from the holidays, so I thought – hmmm. Both caramelize and are stupidly delicious on their own, why not COMBINE and make into a filling?!
Hence the Caramelized Carrot and Onion Tart was born, and crust ideas started swimming in my head. Cheesy polenta was the first lightning strike (fear not, that’s coming tomorrow), but more and more of my friends and clients are going grain free, and there is an ever-increasing number of vegans around, so I decided to go for the challenge of coming up with a vegan Paleo crust. Just saying, this crust is great for a tart, but would also make an amazing and guilt-free crunchy pizza crust. Yes, you ready that right – guilt-free and pizza in the same sentence!
First, for the filling, which does take a little time.
- 2 red onions, sliced thin into half-moons or strips, however you like
- 1 lb or 2 c carrots, ideally in small dice, but thin rounds will work and is what I ended up doing
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- cracked black pepper to taste
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it runs freely around the pan. Add the carrots, onions, and salt and stor to coat all with the oil. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently until onions are soft and caramel-ly and the carrots are cooked through and soft, about 45 minutes. I ended up covering my pan with a lid to speed things up, and saving the steam actually made the next step easier.
- Transfer ½ of the mixture once cooked to a food processor or strong blender and puree, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary to get things moving! Once it is pretty smooth, stir back into the remaining mixture. This blended bit gives the tart filling an almost creamy texture without any dairy or eggs, so definitely don’t skip it!
While your veggies are caramelizing, make the amazing
2 c cauliflower rice, made from about ½ an average sized head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 c almond meal
5 Tablespoons tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons ground chia seed
2 Tablespoons nutritional (aka what I like to call Hippie Dust*)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
First, turn your oven on to 375 F/190 C.
Saute your cauliflower rice – which you have made in a food processor or chopped very finely – with that teaspoon of oil for 6-8 minutes until soft.
Combine your remaining dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cauliflower, kneading it until it forms a big, formable mass of “dough”. (I ran into trouble here – I love raw dough. This raw dough was no exception. I suspect the crust could have been thicker, but dagnabbit – it tasted sooooo goooood.)
Line a pie plate with parchment paper and press the “dough” in until it is uniform thickness all around.
Pop into the oven and bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch.
Remove and cool.
Next – fill your crust with the finished carrot-onion mixture, though I am sure a bazillion other options would work. Bake for an additional 15 – 18 minutes before you remove.
For garnish – pan-fry the leaves of your favorite herbs until they start to brown and drain on paper towels. This is a light, herbal, crispity crunch that will be a fantastic finish, along with a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt flakes for texture!
Nutritional yeast has coated the popcorn of crunchy granola types forever and stood in as a cheesy flavor in tons of vegan dishes – but there is so much more to it and it really should be a staple in any health-conscious person’s diet (who isn’t allergic to yeast, obviously!)
According to Natural Health Magazine, here are some of the facts about Hippie Dust; “Chock full of the B-complex vitamins (some brands including B12), nutritional yeast boasts trace minerals and, being a complete, bioavailable source of protein, contains all 18 amino acids. It is naturally free of dairy, soy, gluten and sugar, and contains no animal products. B vitamins help balance the myriad systems of the body, they help convert food to energy, minimize depression, insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, trembling, loss of appetite, PMS, mood changes and irritability. B vitamins can also improve skin, nails and hair and improve memory.”
So what they’re SAYING is – this tart crust, which can also be used as a pizza crust can help:
- Give you a better body
- Make you happy
- Help you sleep
- Balance hormones
- Make you better looking, and
- Make you smarter
Do you really need any more reasons to make this, f’real?!!
And stay tuned for tomorrow’s Polenta & Pecorino crust recipe – both were so delicious, it was definitely hard to choose a winner!!