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I wanted to make something a little special to ring in the New Year with my husband. But while I was looking for something new to make, I didn’t want it to be overly complicated. And I wanted a dish that would look and taste rich, but not actually be rich. This Shallot Mushroom Tarte Tatin was everything that I was looking for – once I had made a few tweaks.
Full disclosure – I didn’t actually make the Shallot Mushroom Tarte Tatin for New Year’s Eve – or at all. We ended up eating left-overs and ultimately my husband made the tarte with my suggested changes for New Year’s Day dinner. However, this riff on a Tarte Tatin did not disappoint. Originally devised as an accompaniment with drinks, it makes a perfect romantic dinner for two with a lovely, crisp white wine and accompanying arugula and fennel salad. So if you are looking for a Valentine’s Day dinner to share with that special someone, definitely consider this Shallot Mushroom Tarte Tatin.
Don’t be put off by the number of shallots in the recipe. The way they are bathed in the balsamic reduction results in a sweetly caramelized shallot that simply melts in your mouth.
While we did use an all-butter puff pastry (from the freezer section of our grocery), there are vegan puff pastry options. And except for the small amount of cheese added just before serving, the tarte is also vegan. The cheese could be skipped but a vegan cheese option is also possible – and frankly, desirable, in my opinion. The original recipe called for burrata, a cheese that always seems unappetizing to me. I feel the same way about burrata as I do about undercooked egg whites. Ewwww. In any event, I thought the slight tang of a creamy goat cheese was a better foil for the richness of the caramelized shallots. But you do you.
Yield: 2 servings as dinner
1 tablespoon pine nuts or slivered blanched almonds
6 to 8 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¼ Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (Use a vegan buttery solid if you are keeping this vegan.)
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to the instructions on the box (I used Dufours brand which is all butter)
All-purpose flour (for surface)
8 ounces mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces. [While any mushroom would taste good, these mushrooms tend to not hold as much moisture as button, baby bella, cremini or Portobello mushrooms and, therefore are less likely to lead to a soggy bottom.]
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 to 3 ounces of a creamy goat cheese (the kind found in a log), crumbled
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
Sprinkling of flaked Maldon Sea Salt for garnish (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the pine nuts or almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the nuts until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a small bowl and set aside. Do NOT turn off the oven.
Roll out the thawed puff pastry on lightly floured parchment paper to smooth out any creases. The Dufours puff pastry came in one large sheet. If the pastry was in two sheets, place them on top of one another and roll the sheets out together. Cut out a circle that is one inch larger than the top of your skillet. [So my skillet was a Lodge cast iron skillet that measured 10-inches across the top and 9-inches across the bottom. Therefore, my pastry was rolled out to 11-inches.] Once the desired circle is cut out, prick the pastry all over with a fork. Cover the pastry round with another sheet of parchment or plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator while you prepare everything else. Using cold pastry will help prevent shrinkage.
Toss the shallots in the vegetable oil on the same baking sheet that you used to toast the nuts. Season the nuts with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Roast the shallots until tender and with some browned spots – 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the shallots to cool.
While the shallots are roasting, bring the vinegar and sugar to a simmer in a 9 or 10-inch ovenproof skillet. Swirl the pan occasionally until the vinegar has reduced some and become syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter and remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the roasted shallots, cut side up, in the skillet with the vinegar syrup, overlapping them slightly, if needed. Set aside.
Using a medium skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms and garlic, tossing often, until the mushrooms are tender and browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and 1 Tablespoon of the thyme leaves.
Add the cooked mushroom mixture, nuts and grated parmesan to the pan with the shallots, filling in any gaps between the shallots. Any extra mushrooms can just be scattered evenly on top of the shallots. Up to here, this can all be done ahead, if desired. Just don’t forget to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. before the next step!
When you are ready to bake the tarte, take the pastry out of the fridge and drape it over the shallots and mushrooms, tucking the edges down inside the skillet. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, puffed and will not sink if gently pressed with your finger – 25 to 30 minutes. Ovens vary so it could even take a bit longer.
Allow the tarte to sit outside the oven for 10 minutes. Take a plate or cutting board that is larger than the pan and carefully invert the skillet onto the plate. It should release from the pan without any trouble. Scatter the goat cheese, a few more thyme leaves and the Maldon Sea Salt, if using, over the top. Serve with a lovely, crunchy green salad with a slightly acidic dressing and some crisp bread. Now enjoy!