Thyme for Mushroom, Roasted Red Onion & Blue Cheese Tarts


Oh my God I love these. Seriously. They are so yummy I scoffed the one in the pic when I probably should have been taking more photos. So what's all the fuss about? A crispy short pastry shell with a pillowy base of baked  parmesan cream, topped with sweet roasted red onion wedges and plump mushrooms finished with a melty blob of blue cheese and some fresh thyme. Yep. Pour me a glass of red wine to go with it and perhaps a little rocket salad on the side, and it doesn't get much better than that.

(Do not go into a panic looking at the number of ingredients, the steps are all super-simple and the result is definitely worth the effort - promise!)

1 1/2 cups plain flour
100g chilled butter, chopped
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp chilled water

2 tbsp olive oil
1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large red onions, peeled and cut into wedges

4 tbsp olive oil
650g mushrooms, field, swiss, portobello
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

250g cream cheese at room temperature, chopped up a bit
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, crushed

75g blue cheese
handful of fresh thyme sprigs

The pastry couldn't be simpler - put flour, butter and cheese in food processor and whizz just until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and water and pulse until the pastry starts to form big clumps. Tip out onto a lightly floured bench and squish together into a dough round. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Have 6x 11cm removable base tart tins (or one 26cm tin) at the ready. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured bench  to about .5cm deep, and cut circles a little larger than tins. Press into tins, trim tops where the pastry is too long and pop back in the fridge while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. (You will not get all of your circles out of the first 'roll' of the pastry, just press the leftover bits back into a clump and roll again - not too many times or the pastry will be tough!)

Preheat oven to 190˚C (375˚F). Mix oil, balsamic, sugar, salt and pepper together in a small jug. Lay onion wedges in one layer, into a baking dish lined with baking paper. Pour oil mix over and give a bit of a stir around so the onions are well coated. Bung in the oven and forget about them for half an hour.  Give them a bit of a stir around and cook for a further half hour (60 minutes total). Remove and allow to cool in the delicious sweet juices.

Heat oil in a large frypan over a medium/high heat and cook mushrooms (with a good seasoning of salt and pepper) in batches until plump and dark and bursting with flavour. Set aside to cool. (As learned from Julia Child, mushrooms like to be cooked at a highish temperature in an uncrowded pan so that their rich juiciness is locked on the inside rather than leeched out).

Whizz cream cheese, parmesan, whole egg and egg yolk and garlic in a food processor.

Heat oven back to 190˚C (375˚F).  Cut 6 circles of baking paper a few cm bigger than tart tins. Prick the pastry bases with a fork, lay in the baking paper and fill with baking weights, beans or rice. Cook for 12 minutes, then remove baking paper and weights and pop back in the oven for a further 8 minutes until the tart cases are lightly golden. Take out of the oven (I just put them on a tray on top of the oven to do this bit) and divide cream cheese mixture between the cases. Top evenly with red onion wedges, then mushrooms. Break or cut blue cheese into chunks and put a knob in the middle of each tart. Sprinkle a few thyme leaves over the top, reduce oven temperature to 180˚C (350˚F) and cook a further 20-25 minutes until the base is set and mushrooms and pastry is golden. Serve with a sprinkling of sea salt, a grinding of black pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.

Try not to eat immediately! Tarts can be served hot, warm or at room temperature and make a perfect lunch, dinner or picnic treat.


  1. This looks fab. The ingredients are on my list to get tomorrow!

    1. Haha - great stuff Kate - thanks so much, hope you enjoy them! :)