Cheese and onion tart with butternut squash and Périgord truffle

This is a winter vegetarian dish from the River Room menu, it consists of a sweet and sharp onion jam, rich Irish cheddar sauce and baked discs of butternut squash and is topped with roast onion and thin slices of winter truffle for that touch of extravagance.
Small flan tins will be required for individual tarts or a large one can be made in a bigger tin and portioned after.

Ingredients - Serves 4

1 large butternut squash
20g fresh truffle (truffle oil can be added at the end if these are unavailable)
4 onions
Splash of sherry vinegar
60g sugar
100g hard Irish cheddar, like Coolea (Comté or Gruyère will do also)
100ml cream
3 eggs
8 sheets filo pastry (about 20cm x 20 cm)
80g melted butter for brushing
Spoonful honey
Olive oil
Salt & pepper



For the butternut squash

Firstly, cook the butternut squash, start by slicing the whole vegetable lengthways into pieces around 1cm in thickness, place these on a baking tray brush with oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper and cook in a low oven (120c) until just soft. Remove and allow to cool then using pastry cutters cut into discs about half the diameter of the flan tin.


For the onion jam


Slice 3 of the onions very thin, use a mandolin or Japanese slice for best results. Add to a warm pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. Cook the onions slowly for about 40 minutes until reduced and very soft, add the sugar and allow to caramelise then add the vinegar and continue to cook gently until soft and sticky. More sugar or vinegar can be added to taste.


For the cheese sauce


Place a pot of water on the heat and allow to boil, then place a metal bowl over the water to create a bain marie. Add the cream, eggs and grated cheese to the bowl and gently whisk over heat, continue to cook until the sauce has thickened to a custard consistency then remove from the heat.


For the pastry


Layout 4 of the sheets of pastry then brush with butter and season, top each sheet with another one to create 4 double layered sheets, cut in to circles about 2cm bigger than the baking tins and carefully press into the base of the tin, put another tin on top to hold it in place while cooking. Bake in the oven at 150c until lightly golden and crisp.


For the roast onion


Cut the remaining onion in half and in a heavy-based pan, add a little oil and butter over medium heat, season, then place the two halves cut side down in the oil and butter, allow to colour then place in an oven to cook until very soft at 160c. Once cooked, allow cooling then cut each half again so that there are 4 quarters.


To assemble the dish


Lay out the crisp tart cases then put a layer of the onion jam in the base of each one, add a good layer of cheese sauce then slices of the squash on top, place a piece of the soft quartered onion on top and warm through in the oven, just prior to serving shave thin slices of truffle over the tart and finish with a few fresh leaves.


Wine Recommendation | Santa Alicia Chardonnay


The vineyards are located in the Maipo Alto area of Chile, at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The soil of alluvial origin is very permeable, with medium intensity. The lack of precipitation from November to March produces grapes of excellent health and quality, with well-developed aromas and flavours.
100% Chardonnay, Grapes are handpicked to avoid damaging the clusters at the end of March. 80% of them are fermented in fine grain French oak barrels and kept with its lees for 6 months. The other 20% is fermented in stainless steel tanks.
Golden yellow colour with greenish hues. The complex aromas exhibit great intensity and notes of tropical and citrus fruit, nicely balanced with notes of toasted oak, hazelnuts, cinnamon and vanilla. A delicate and elegant wine in the mouth, with a fine balance between the fruit and the wood, nice acidity and persistent finish.

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