With two more weeks to go, Christmas preparations are in full swing. The tree’s up and decorated, Christmas presents are picked, bought and handmade and I’m happily testing recipes for our family Christmas dinner. Right now, this beetroot tatin is on the shortlist!
For children and grown-ups alike, there’s something utterly festive about being allowed to eat sweets for dinner. Which kind of sweet matters, though, and the particular sweet and earthy flavour of beetroots doesn’t please everyone. If you don’t particularly care for these little roots, this week you may want to reconsider and if you loved them already, you’re in for a treat, because these little tarts are genuine crowd pleasers.
In these tarts, the beetroots are combined with juicy, deep-flavoured fried red onion rings and a tangy balsamic caramel to balance their sweetness. A topping of glazed walnuts adds crunch and fresh thyme makes the whole thing nice and herby.
I usually make these tarts with a shortcrust case, with the soft crumbly texture making a lovely contrast with the moist and sticky filling. I’ve tried them with the different kinds of pastry you can find in my basic recipes archive and they’re all equally good. Depending on your taste and dietary wishes, you can opt for vegan and GF almond pastry, GF buckwheat and quinoa pastry, classic butter and flour shortcrust pastry or of course any other pastry of your choice. And if you’re stressed for time, shop-bought puff pastry is a convenient shortcut option.
After you’ve finished covering the veg with the pastry, the unbaked tarts will keep well in the fridge for up to a day, which means they can be prepared ahead and baked just before serving on the next day. Now nothing stands in the way of relaxed festive dining.
Baby beetroot tatin with red onion and balsamic caramel – makes 4 individual tartlets or 1 round ∅ 26 cm tart
- 300-400 g beetroot, unpeeled and rinsed. When making individual tartlets, appr. 30 tiny baby roots will fill them up nicely. When making one large tart, I usually opt for tangerine-sized regular beetroots, in which case you’ll need about 400 g.
- 2 red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 75 g dark muscovado sugar
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. walnuts or pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 portion vegan and GF almond shortcrust pastry, chilled for at least one hour. For a non-vegan version, GF buckwheat and quinoa pastry or classic butter and flour shortcrust pastry make good alternatives.
- arugula leaves and extra thyme sprigs, for garnish
Plus: four ∅12 cm tart cases or one ∅26 cm tart case, lined with baking parchment.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Cut very long stalks off the beetroots, but leave them untrimmed otherwise. Add the beetroots to the boiling water and simmer until tender. Tiny baby roots will take 5-10 minutes to cook; depending on their size, regular beetroots may take 20-45 minutes; start testing them for tenderness after 20 minutes by piercing one of them with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Over a medium heat, fry the onion rings for about 10 minutes, until cooked and caramelised. Take the onions out of the pan and set aside.
Drain the beetroots. Baby roots don’t need peeling and are ready for use now. Regular roots can be peeled now with a knife or by rubbing off the skins with your fingers in a pot of cold water.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Wipe the frying pan clean with a piece of kitchen paper. Sprinkle in the sugar and heat until it dissolves and cooks to a sticky caramel; tilt the pan a few times to make sure the sugar melts evenly. Stir in the vinegar and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Leave to cook for a minute, then take off the heat and divide over the bottom of the tart case(s).
Sprinkle the caramel with 1 tablespoon of the thyme leaves. Cut the beetroots into halves or wedges and arrange them over the caramel, cut-side up. Fill the gaps between them with the chopped nuts. Spread the caramelised onion rings over the beetroots.
Knead the remaining thyme leaves into the dough. Roll out the pastry into a circle just larger than the tart case(s). Place the pastry over the vegetables and tuck it down the insides of the tin(s).
Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the caramel bubbles up around the edges.
Cool for a few minutes in the tin(s), then turn out onto a plate. Serve, topped with arugula leaves and sprinkled with fresh thyme sprigs.