A savoury twist on the classic French apple tart, this makes an excellent lunch or supper with a simple green salad and some good sharp cheese (goat’s or other). If you don’t have the rightsized ovenproof frying pan, transfer the cooked shallots to a small greased pie dish or shallow cake tin before topping with the pastry.
- 50g butter
- 500g shallots, peeled
- 120ml balsamic vinegar
- Small bunch fresh thyme, tied together tightly with string
- 300g ready-rolled sheet all-butter puff pastry
- Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof frying pan (beware wooden and plastic handles!). The shallots will shrink a lot, so the pan might need to be smaller than you’d imagine. Add the shallots and cook on a medium heat until they start to brown, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar, thyme, a teaspoon of salt, some pepper and enough water to cover. Poach the shallots until they are cooked through and completely soft, about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Remove the thyme, then bubble the liquid and reduce it until the balsamic vinegar becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning.
Cut a circle of pastry a little larger than the pan, then lay it over the shallots and quickly tuck down the sides (without burning your fingers). Cut a small slit in the centre for a steam vent. Immediately place the pan in the oven and bake for 20–30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, and then invert on to a large flat plate or wooden board, cut into wedges and serve warm.