Leek and Onion Tart

October 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

This tart has been one of my go-to dishes for years. I’m not sure exactly when I first made it. I have a suspicion that it was with my friend Janina, maybe when we shared an apartment in New York. Or possibly for one of our themed dinner parties back in California, which are themed more in terms of attire (or in some cases, costume), than they are themed in menu. We like to cook all of the dishes that are most exciting to us that day, which often leads to an eclectic, but still delicious, combination of items!

Whenever it was that I first came upon this tart in The Art of Simple Food, I have not forgotten it since. I have brought it to many a pot-luck, cooked it as a Thanksgiving appetizer, and made it more than once simply to satisfy personal cravings. I’ve had friends request that I bring it to parties, and countless people ask for the recipe. And I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like it.

Besides the enjoyment of eating this tart, the best thing about it is its simplicity. It requires only eight ingredients, and though there is a bit of waiting in the process (to let the tart dough chill, and later to bake it), the steps are all very straight-forward. I’ve stayed pretty true to the recipe over the years, with only limited alterations. My main adaptation is to use a combination of leeks and onions, instead of onions alone. I’ve also omitted the thyme – I prefer the purity of onions and leeks seasoned only with salt. Besides these alterations, you have Alice Waters to thank for this tart. When something tastes so good, you don’t want to mess around with it too much!

Leek and Onion Tart (from The Art of Simple Food)

Makes 1 tart – serves 8 as an appetizer*

* When I make this tart for a group, I normally double the recipe and make two. The tart is so popular, most people want more than one piece!


Tart Dough

  • 3-4 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large leeks, darker greens and white root discarded, cut in half length-wise, and then thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 egg
  • Splash of milk (approximately 1 teaspoon)

Start with the dough. Mix together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Use your fingers to work the butter in the the flour mixture. Continue to work the dough until the butter is well combined, but some larger pieces of butter still remain (some butter pieces may be as large as peas)  Add three tablespoons water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork in-between each addition. Dough should begin to form larger clumps, and hold together easily. Three tablespoons of water is generally enough for me, but add up to four tablespoons if needed. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

While the dough is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 375°F, and then begin on the filling. Cut the onions and leeks. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan until butter is melted. Add onions and leeks, and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, or until onions and leeks are soft. Add salt, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Roll out the dough into a 12-14 inch circle on a well floured surface. Fold dough gently in half, and then in half again, so that you form a cone shape. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and unfold the cone so that you once again have a circle of dough. (Making the cone just makes the transfer easier. You can skip this step if you are confident in your dough moving skills!). Place dough in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator, and spoon the leek-onion mixture onto the center of the dough. Moving out from the center, spread the onions and leeks evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2 inch dough border around the edge of the tart. Gently fold the border of dough up over the leek-onion filling.

Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl, and brush over the dough rim.

Bake at 375º for 45-55 minutes, until both the crust rim and the bottom of the tart are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. Tart can be served either warm or at room temperature, but is best eaten the day it is made.


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