I love sweet Vidalia onions, and this is a good way to enjoy them!
I tend to make this recipe more like a “pie” and use my handmade deep-dish pottery pie dish that I bought at craft fair (to see a picture of what my pie dish looks like, click HERE)…but this recipe can certainly be made more like a tart if you happen to have a tart pan, or more like a quiche if you have a quiche pan. Since I do like to put a bit of cream into the eggs, it does rise a little, which makes it somewhat thicker than a typical tart. It’s sort of like a cross between a pie – tart – quiche. Any way you look at it, it’s yummy!
I hate making my own pie crust – I’ve never been good at it. I used to make this with the ready-made frozen pie crust that comes in the aluminium foil pie pan – just fill, bake, and serve. Then I got my cute pottery pie dish, and so I had to start thinking about making my own crust…ugh! But lucky for me, that problem is taken care of – I just buy those ready-made Pillsbury pie crusts…the ones that come in a roll and you just thaw it out, unroll it, and shape it into your own pie pan or pie dish or tart pan or whatever. Easier than trying to make and roll out your own. But hey…if you are one of those people who can make a good pie crust and you’re willing to do so, go for it!
After you have made your pie crust and shaped it in the pan, put that pan into a 400 degree oven and let the crust bake for about 10 – 15 minutes or so, or until the crust is just starting to get light brown. You don’t want to bake it until it is fully done and brown, but this gives it a good “head start” and gets it nice and firm so that it won’t be all soggy when you make the tart in it. After you have taken your crust out of the oven, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees – that is what you will bake the pie at.
Now slice up two large sweet onions – I prefer to use Vidalia onions, but you can use whatever you prefer…just make sure they are sweet onions that get a sweet taste to them when they cook. You want around 1 and 1/2 pounds of onions – weigh them when you are buying them, if possible. You may need a bit more if you are using a deep dish pie pan or quiche pan like I use…just sorta “estimate” how much you think you need. Just remember that these onion are going to shrink down when they are cooking, so you will need more than it might look at first! I just leave my onions in nice thin slices, but if you prefer to chop them up a bit more, you can…but leave them in good bite-sized chunks, you don’t want them chopped up too fine.
Put your onion slices in a large pan with butter – you want to use at least half a stick of butter, and maybe even more (I am a big butter lover, so I use lots of butter!) If you are concerned about the fat in butter, you can use olive oil instead… or a combination of olive oil with a pat or two of butter (I like the flavor that butter imparts to the onions). Saute your onions on low heat until they are nice and soft and translucent and just beginning to carmelize. You don’t want them to get brown, but you do want them nice and soft. This should take about twenty minutes or so.
Traditionally this recipe is made without cheese. However, I am one of those people who believes the world would be a much better place if people would just eat a piece of cheese on a daily basis. At least they will have something edible to go along with all that whining we seem to do regularly! In any case, when I make my onion pie, I do add cheese. You can do the same, or just eliminate it if you’re not a big cheese lover.
You have your choice of the cheeses you want to use – cheddar, swiss, provolone, etc. What I like to do is sprinkle a handful or two of shredded cheese on the bottom of the baked pie crust before I add in the onions and egg mixture, to make a nice cheesy bottom to my pie.
Then take your sauteed onions and put them in your pie crust, on top of your cheese. Spread them around so they cover the entire pie plate in a nice layer. You don’t want the pie plate (or tart pan or quiche pan or whatever pan you’re using) to be TOO filled with onions, because you do need to have room for the egg-and-cream mixture that you are going to pour on top of the onions…so make sure the onions only come up around 2/3 of the dish, and leave some little spaces in between onions so the eggy mixture can seep down in between the onions and create your pie.
Now beat up two or three large eggs (depending on how big and thick your pie will be, I use three, but sometimes two will do just fine). Add around a cup of heavy (whipping) cream. You won’t need more, but you may be able to use a little less…so sorta eyeball it. I find a cup pretty much works for me. Then if you are like me, add in another handful or two of shredded cheese (told ya I love cheese!) Also add some seasonings of your preference – I like to put in a pinch or two of ground nutmeg, it really brings out the flavor. You can also use herbs such as thyme, marjoram, savory, sage, rosemary, or basil.
Pour your egg-and-cream mixture into the pie crust on top of your onions. Try to make sure that the egg gets all around your pie, but be careful that you don’t spill the egg running over the edges and making a mess everywhere (goddess knows how many times that has happened to me!) In fact, you may actually want to try and move the pie crust over to the oven first, pull out the rack, and pour your egg mixture on top there…so you don’t have to try and move your pie with the eggs on it and spill it all over the floor. A friend of mine makes her egg mixture in the blender (without the cheese), and then moves her pie over to the oven and pours the contents of the blender on top there to make it easier. Just be careful you don’t burn yourself on the oven! If you’re good at moving stuff without spilling, then just fill your pie dish up, and then carry it over and pop it in the oven (you’re talking to the woman who has never been able to fill an ice cube tray without spilling half the water all over the floor…)
Since this recipe does have a tendency to raise up and for the egg mixture to possibly run over, I would recommend putting a cooking sheet or a piece of foil on the bottom of your oven floor to catch any drips so you don’t have to clean it up later (unless you are one of those lucky people who has a self-cleaning oven and thus couldn’t care less… I have an old ancient gas stove that I gotta scrub myself!)
Let your pie bake for about 35 minutes. Once again, if you want even MORE cheese, sprinkle some on top after the first 20 to 25 minutes, and let it bake another 10 to 15 minutes – by this time it should be done and your cheese on top should be all melted and bubbly and delicious.
Remove pie and let it cool a little bit (if you can wait that long!) and then cut and serve. You can refrigerate this pie and then heat it up in the microwave, or keep it out and serve it at room temperature later in the day (but refrigerate it overnight).