So we had a little party on Saturday night. I love to have people over for dinner but I don’t like being so busy with dinner that I don’t get any time with the people, so the key is to find lots of wonderful things that make themselves, or can be made ahead of time, and appeal to a wide variety of people and ages.
A soup party is ideal.
I must be boring you to tears with all the soup recipes I post but really, you have to admit it’s one of the world’s most perfect foods. And for a party, you can’t beat it, because the soup takes center stage and all you have to fuss with are the little, fun, assorted goodies that go on the side of a soup bowl.
So there were 16 of us total – 8 kids and 8 adults – and nearly everything I made was something I’ve already blogged about.
I made a huge pot of butternut squash soup for the grown-ups, and to appeal to the kids I made a slightly less huge pot of chicken noodle soup (which I’ve never made a formal post about because like meatloaf and meatballs it seems sort of ridiculous, but what the hell, it’s right here).
For fun things, I had riccotta cheese to serve on Trader Joe’s raisin rosemary crisps which are AWESOME (and I totally sang “awesome” right there). I made a big dish of the celery-fennel-radish slaw which is the hot side dish in our house lately, no one could get enough. I put that out with some pita chips and it was gone in like 20 minutes. Then one of my friends brought a green salad, and I had sliced a big garlic-onion ciabatta and put it out with butter.
Last I made an onion tart which is new here, something very simple and very wonderful. I got it out of Gourmet magazine two years ago, and last night my friend Laura and I were frantically searching through all my food magazines but couldn’t find the recipe so I had to sort of fudge it from memory. I looked a little more methodically today and yes, of course, now I remember, it was my mother’s magazine so I had photocopied the page with the recipe and there it was, neatly tucked into the pages of another cookbook.
Onion Tart with Mustard and Fennel
- 1 package frozen pizza dough (original recipe has you actually making your own pizza dough but I’m going to assume that everyone here is on my wavelength and would rather be drinking than making their own pizza dough)
- 3 lbs yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (OR 2 1/2 pounds and one bulb of fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced. That’s my own variation but I didn’t do it last night because I was using the fennel for slaw)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I was out of regular Dijon but I had whole-grain and figured I could substitute, however I do not recommend this; it was far too strong. Good for the sinuses if you have a cold, but just too overpowering)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Dried thyme, or reserved fronds from fennel if using, chopped fine
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions (and fennel if using), 1 tsp salt, and a few grounds of the pepper grinder. Saute for 5 minutes until well-coated, then lower heat. Low heat and long time is the name of the game when it comes to caramelizing onions. You’re going to cook these a good 45 minutes to an hour until they are very tender and golden-brown. The good news is you can do this step up to two days ahead of time, and store the onions in the fridge until it’s time to make the tart.
Preheat oven to 375 with rack in the middle.
Oil or spray with Pam a baking sheet. Stretch pizza dough out, into a rectangle if you can but I never seem to manage more than a lopsided circle. This is supposed to look rustic. Spread mustard evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2″ border around edge.
Spread onions evenly over mustard, then sprinkle cheese over all. Sprinkle dried thyme or the chopped fennel fronds.
Bake tart 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cut into 2 inch squares or diamonds, or slice like a pizza.
This tart is awesome on its own with soup, salad and a glass of wine. Your guests will love it, I promise.
I had a great time. I’m so glad you came.