October 27, 2005
Blue Cheese, Prune, and Onion Tart

It's late in Paris, where David Lebovitz is sleeping. His challenge to blog about prunes today has been answered around the globe, but the clock has not struck midnight in the U.S. yet, and I'm still working on dinner.

I don't cook with prunes usually, though I have no aversion to them. I like them as a finger food or natural snack. Add a bit of orange or lemon or cranberry flavor to them and I'll eat a pound in no time.

But cooking with prunes. Interesting. I might like cooked prunes, but how many other people would? Would our readers abandon us en masse for the next Rachael Ray's website - someplace safe with a mac and cheese recipe?

Look, let's be frank here. We know each other. You won't like this tart. No sir (or madam) - not at all. You should probably just click on one of those links over there to the right and not read about how the onions carmelized in the pan or how the prunes sweetness perfectly offset the salty blue cheese or how the crispy buttery crust crunched beneath our forks.

No, you should probably go on thinking prunes are for old people and that certainly mixing sweet and salty flavors together is some sort of peculiar alchemy performed by the mentally imbalanced. That's what I'd do if I were you. I'd flee this recipe. Isn't Amateur Gourmet going somewhere nice for dinner? Doesn't Mahanandi have some new curry recipe to share? Is Coltilde back from vacation yet?

No, I wouldn't make this tart if I were you. No point to it, really. I suppose if you have to, you could use the recipe below and enjoy the sensation of a...

Blue Cheese, Prune and Onion Tart

1 pre-baked pie crust

1 cup prunes, pits removed
2 large sweet onions, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup balsamic vinegar (use the cheap stuff)
4 ounces medium blue cheese (Maytag was my choice)

Make the crust and pre-bake it using any unsweetened buttery crust recipe to produce a crisp crust. If you need a crust recipe, use the one from this quiche.

Boil enough water to cover the prunes in a bowl. Cover them and let sit for twenty minutes. Chop prunes coarsely.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Sautee the onions over medium heat in a large sauce pan in the oil. Salt lightly. A lot of water will come out of the onions. Either cook it away or drain after ten minutes and add the balsamic. Toss to coat and continue cooking the onions. Cook until liquid is absorbed and onions are meltingly soft.

Mix the mustard powder and prunes into the onions well and heat through. If you are so inclined, you could add a few minced anchovy filets at this point.

Dump the whole mess in the piecrust and crumble the blue cheese all over the top of the tart. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 F oven or until the cheese takes on a bit of color and the crust is crispy.

Nice and sweet with no added sugars. Everything sweet you taste is from the balsamic and the onions. The blue cheese (and optional anchovy) cuts through the sweetness.

But don't bother making this. You don't like prunes.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at October 27, 2005 10:10 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

What a tart to wake up to!

Posted by David on October 28, 2005 at 1:01 AM

Hi Barrett, that tart looks amazing! Im particularly stunned by the big, hearty crust. A tart after my own heart. Ok, it rhymes but I didn't intend it to. In any case, the recipe sounds great, very impressive!

Posted by michele on October 28, 2005 at 1:48 AM

I think I might have to give that a try over the weekend - thanks Barrett!

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 28, 2005 at 3:18 AM

Wow, looks fantastic!

Posted by Melissa on October 28, 2005 at 6:03 AM

Prunes--you know, I like to eat them out of hand, like raisins on steroids. But I haven't cooked with them, so I might have to try--I am too late to stand up for the challenge, but what else is new? I am always a day late and dollar short.

But I have to admit that prunes still give me a frisson of terror--I was subjected to a daily dose of prune juice as a child, every morning with breakfast. For its, uh, digestive, properties.

There is nothing worse than prune juice. At least not in my childhood universe. I even liked canned spinach compared to that. Even overgrown bitter dandelion greens went down easier than the slack black liquid in the tiny juice glass.

Okay, maybe I have talked myself out of cooking with prunes any time in the near future.

Posted by Barbara on October 28, 2005 at 12:05 PM

Barbara, my original thought was to boil down a quart of prune juice and add chipotle and adobo to it like the Ming Tsai carrot-chipotle sauce. I still think that might be a winner.

You can always cackle gleefully as the nasty prune juice evaporates as it concentrates.

Posted by barrett on October 28, 2005 at 12:45 PM

I like the cackling gleefully part.

I think I might have to wear a clothespin on my nose while doing so, though--just in case the smell gives me flashbacks!

One could always mince up prunes with chipotle, garlic and sundried tomatoes and mix it with rice and the innards of a squash or eggplant and then stuff it into the shell, and glaze the outside with sauce stuff you came up with and then bake that sucker.

I bet it would be good.

Posted by Barbara on October 28, 2005 at 1:24 PM

Barbara, I completely agree with you about prune juice. It's revolting stuff. (but overcooked canned peas are much much worse) Luckily the smell of prune juice doesn't put me off though. And you've got to try cooking with prunes! They are brilliant in both savoury and sweet things. One of our favourite dishes is chicken and prunes with couscous.

At first I thought, what a great idea to marry blue cheese with prunes, Barrett!! Until you told me that I don't like prunes. I really WANTed that tart. Quel shame to read that I won't like it.


P.S. Thank Heaven you didn't tell me that I don't like blue cheese. Whatever would we do then? (hehehehehehehe - I bet you can't guess we might be having this weekend.)

Posted by ejm on October 29, 2005 at 5:02 AM

I finally made this tart this weekend. I shouldn't have waited so long! It's fabulous. Many thanks for posting the recipe, Barrett.


Posted by ejm on January 23, 2006 at 11:16 AM
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