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Jenny’s Onion Tart from Voyager

Jenny’s Onion Tart from Voyager


I caught up with her just outside the barn; she heard my step behind her and turned, startled.  She glanced about quickly, but saw we were alone.  Realizing that there was no way of putting off a confrontation, she squared her shoulders under the woolen cloak and lifted her head, meeting my eyes straight on.

“I thought I’d best tell Young Ian to unsaddle the horse,” she said.  “Then I’m going to the root cellar to fetch up some onions for a tart.  Will ye come with me?”

“I will.”  Pulling my cloak tight around me against the winter wind, I followed her into the barn.

Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (Chapter 38 – I Meet a Lawyer)

Nothing like a little confrontation to clear the air between good-sisters.

Their tête-à-tête in the root cellar is tense to start, but by the end, Claire’s and Jenny’s anger has followed the path through mutual sadness and fear of rejection, then climbed to the peak of hope, promise and renewed friendship.

All accomplished face to face in a matter of minutes.

I love my modern life, full of social media and connectivity…but sometimes, I long for the simple 70s of my childhood — when nobody phoned after 8pm, TV was 13 channels, and we all made friends on the playground instead of Facebook.

egg yolk for onion tart

The simplicity this onion tart makes it one of my favourite foods on earth.  It’s on my brunch table, in one form or another, 9 times out of 10, and I always miss it when it’s not.

Lightly sauteed onions and bacon are nestled in a buttery tart shell and blanketed with a velvety, egg-enriched bechamel.  It’s creamier than a quiche and the onions are mild, despite the fact that they fill the crust.

This is also a favourite of my Chef Instructor from culinary school, Chef Patrice.  A regional dish from the French province of his birth, Alsace, he was very definite about how it should be prepared.  I’ve risked his wrath and made the bacon optional, but that’s the only change I’ve made to his master recipe.

julienned for an onion tart

The knife skill that we learned before tackling this recipe for the first time was a julienne.  Julienned onions are used more often in professional kitchens than sliced because their size is relatively consistent, which means they cook more evenly.

To julienne an onion, trim the ends and peel.  Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then put the cut edge on the cutting board.  Work right to left – unless you’re cack-handed 😉 – and angle your knife to make graduated 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick slices.  When you get to the middle and your knife is at 90° to the cutting board, clear away the cut onions and tip the freshly cut edge down to the cutting board.  Again, working right to left, finish julienning the first half of the onion.

Repeat with the second half.

Confused?  There are more pictures here that will explain it all.

freshly ground nutmeg

What differentiates this tart from an onion quiche is the béchamel.

A béchamel is a basic white sauce made from milk, roux and seasonings.  A roux is equivalent amounts of flour and butter, cooked together.  Traditionally, the seasonings are salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

It’s pretty much a cheese sauce before you add the cheese, with a little nutmeg to make it fancy.


All of the components of this dish – the crust, the bacon, the onions, the béchamel – can all be made up to 2 days ahead, then assembled and baked on the day you plan to eat it.  That said, I think this tart is even better a day or two after it’s baked, so I always prepare it the day before, then pull it from the fridge a couple of hours before service, to give it time to come to room temperature.

Toss a green salad to go on the side, and brunch doesn’t get much easier than that!


Jenny’s Onion Tart from Voyager 

: Creamy, mild and delicious.  Perfect for brunch.

Yield:  11” tart, serves 6-8

  • Yellow Onions – 1 lb (500 g)
  • Butter – 2 Tble (30 ml)
  • Olive Oil – 2 Tble (30 ml)
  • Dried Thyme – ½ tsp (3 ml)
  • Butter – 2 Tble (30 ml)
  • Flour – 2 Tble (30 ml)
  • Whole Milk – 2 Cups (500 ml)
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated – pinch
  • Eggs – 2

Read the recipe through at least once before you begin.

Onions:  Julienne (slice) the onions thinly, about ⅛” thick. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until melted.  Add the onions, thyme and a pinch of salt.  Saute until soft and translucent (no browning), about 15 minutes.  Set aside.

Béchamel:  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  When frothing, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and heat, whisking occasionally, until it comes to the boil.  Boil slowly for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  The mixture will be very thick.  Season to taste with salt (about 1 teaspoon) and pepper.  Cool 10 minutes.

While the béchamel cools, separate 1 of the eggs into yolk and white.  Beat the whole egg and the yolk together.  Lightly beat the white and set aside.

Once the béchamel has cooled slightly, stir in the nutmeg, whole egg and yolk.

Assemble & Bake:  Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C).

Roll out the shortcrust dough into an 11-inch tart pan.  Prick holes all over the surface of the crust with a fork, then par-bake as directed.  When it’s out of the oven, brush the bottom with the egg white to seal.

As the tart shell par-bakes, crisp the optional diced bacon in a small pan over medium heat.  Drain the bits over paper towel.

Increase the oven to 400° F (205° C)

Centre the tart pan with crust on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle the bacon bits on the bottom of the crust, top with the onions in an even layer, then pour the béchamel over top.

Bake until almost set in the centre, about 30-35 minutes.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.  Wrap leftovers well and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Tastes even better the next day.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)


  1. Aaron Brown
    March 11, 2013 at 5:56 am

    When Jenny said onion tart, I thought, hummm I am not so sure of that. But this looks and sounds delicious!!!

    • Jeanne
      March 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Hi Theresa,

      Wow, this recipe really resonates with me. It is very similar to my sisters bacon cheesecake (without the cheese). I like to add a little more bacon though, (everything is better with bacon)! Our ancestors are from Alsace as well as Scotland so this will fit in with our foodieness quite well.

      Buidheachas, mo charaid!


    • Theresa
      March 11, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Extra bacon makes everything better in my world. Enjoy, Jeanne!

    • Theresa
      March 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

      As long as you don’t HATE onions…you’ll love this tart. 😀

    • Theresa
      March 11, 2013 at 10:49 am

      I think you’ll love it, Aaron. I had this one for lunch several times last week. 😀

  2. Georgia at In Search of a Muse
    March 11, 2013 at 7:15 am

    This sounds downright luscious. Could one perhaps add some shallot to replace part of the onion?

    • Theresa
      March 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

      When you’re making it, you can substitute whatever you want! Have fun with it!

    • Anne E
      August 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      I make something quite similar, calling it an Allium Overload tart. I slice 2 brown onions, 2 shallots, 1 red onion, 1 white onion, 1 bunch chives , 1 or 2 leeks ( up to where the leek leaves begin to get coarse); all caramelized and softened over low heat in 2 or 3 T. unsalted butter and 1/4 cup olive oil. I blanch my garlic in boiling water , then add the peeled and sliced cloves later into the saute pan when the onion mixture is 80% soft. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. ( I use very little salt.) Set aside. Whisk together 2 eggs, with 1/2 c. table cream ( or half and half) and 1 cup ricotta cheese. Spread onion mixture in bottom of a 9 inch pie crust pour egg cream mixture over. Grate 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese over pie, place on a cookie sheet and slide into a preheated 425* F oven. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 350*F and finish baking. To check for done-ness, slip a knife blade into the custard of the tart. If it comes out clean, the tart is done. Cool to luke-warm or room temperature before slicing.

    • Stephanie
      August 18, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      An even better idea would be a tad of shallots and then use Leeks, the sweet buttery taste would be perfect for this and make it taste ever so much more rich and decadent while not being so. I use those two as a pasta topping and it is scrumptious.

  3. Laurie Brett Pearsall
    March 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Thanks for this recipe! I like tarts far more than quiche. I’m always looking for a new taste & I think this will fit the bill!

  4. Christiane KYPREOS
    March 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Hello Theresa ! Too bad my husband HATES onions AND garlic !!! Since in French and Greek cooking nearly everything you cook has onions and/or garlic in it, you can understand my problem…! No need to add that I LOVE onions and garlic. Onion tart is a regional dish from Alsace indeed, I love it very much, it is sweet tasting. Cheers from Paris, Christiane

    • Theresa
      March 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

      You’ll have to make a small one for yourself, Christiane…and tell your husband to order a pizza that night! LOL

    • Christiane KYPREOS
      March 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Yes Theresa, something like that !! Thankyou, Christiane

    • Lyn
      March 12, 2013 at 1:17 am

      My son hates onions and green pepper so whenever I made something that called for them, like spaghetti sauce, I would go ahead and saute them, but then I would put them in the blender or food processor with some of the tomatoes and chop them up so you couldn’t see them anymore. Then, I would add that back to the sauce pan where I was making the sauce and voila! He loved it and never even knew they were there. Meanwhile, the rest of us who actually liked onion and green pepper still got the flavor of them, if not the usual diced pieces in our sauce. I usually used about half the green pepper called for because of its stronger & distinctive taste, so he wouldn’t suss them out by taste alone. Not sure if you could get it past your husband, but I’d give it a try, rather than giving them up. I don’t know how I would cook and season without onions and garlic! This particular recipe however, would be a no go, since it’s all onion. I wonder if you could make 2 smaller tarts? One for you with onion added and one for him with a greater amount of bacon than the recipe calls for. Or maybe bacon and some sun-dried tomatoes. Does he like leeks or fresh chives? Seems like they would work, too. I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like the sweet Vidalia onions that should be in markets sometime in the next month or two. I’m going to try making this tart when the Vidalias are in season for an extra good flavor.

    • Theresa
      March 12, 2013 at 8:07 am

      I find that Vidalias are overly sweet in this dish, but try them and see what you think!

  5. Allie
    March 17, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I made this for a French food night – a Belgian, a Frenchman, and a Swiss gave it rave reviews! I left the bacon out, as I had none to hand. Reheated very well, so I enjoyed the last slice for lunch the next day. Thanks for an easy and delicious tart! 😉

    • Theresa
      March 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      I`m glad it passed muster with the European crowd, Allie! Chef P would be proud. 😉

  6. Joanna
    April 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this tart yesterday for Easter dinner and it was out-of-this-world fabulous! Everyone at the table enjoyed it. Thanks so much for this recipe. It’s a definite keeper!

    • Theresa
      April 21, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Joanna, I`m so glad you and your guests enjoyed it! 🙂

  7. jennifer
    July 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    We have something very, very similar in my family called Tarte à l’oignon. It is the same base except we caramelize the onions for a deeper flavor. The bacon seems like a tasty addition! I add a little cayenne to the béchamel for a little kick. It is a staple at most of our family gatherings!

  8. mrschef
    August 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I made this tart to bring to a cocktail party. It was a big hit, even with one of the guests who proclaimed to not like onions, just as you said. I’ll be making it again.

    Quick note; the Béchamel instructions never mention adding the nutmeg.

    Love your site. Thanks!

    • Theresa
      August 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Glad everyone loved it! And thanks for the nutmeg bit…I’ll have a look at the recipe.

  9. Carole Williams
    August 12, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Are there plans to publish all these wonderful recipes in a collection?

  10. Barra Jacob-McDowell / Barra the Bard
    August 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Theresa, Can I use turkey bacon? Violently allergic to any form of pork! Thanks! –Barra

    • Theresa
      August 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Yes, that will work just fine!

  11. Jennifer
    September 27, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I’m making right now but my Béchamel is very runny, I was expecting a consistency like gravy but its only a little thicker than milk. I haven’t added the eggs at this point…. should I proceed or try another batch of Béchamel? Onions and Tart crust are done and I don’t want to ruin my beautiful work so far!!

    • Jennifer
      September 27, 2014 at 6:16 am

      Actually, I think I’ve got it! I added a little bit of extra flour and whisked for another few minutes. Consistency looks perfect!!

    • Theresa
      September 27, 2014 at 6:41 am

      Good news, and great save!

  12. Joey Newman
    October 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I made Jenny’s Onion Tart tonight. My version respects rules of kosher cooking so I used margarine instead of butter and almond milk instead of milk and smoked meat instead of bacon. I had to substantially thicken the bechamel with corn starch as it was still very runny after the procecedure in the recipe. In the end I think it was more thick than your bechamel but I hope it tastes good! I’ll let you know. Thanks for being an Outlander nut too!

    • Theresa
      October 15, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Very cool, Joey! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  13. julie morthorpe
    November 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    thanks for the recipe similar to one I have made for 35 years ozarks onion bread mine has damper base but will be giving this one ago grat site cheers from Australia

  14. Connie Sandlin (a/k/a @Yr_Obt_Svt)
    February 19, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    So, the recipe calls for 2 eggs altogether. I’m trying to make sure I understand this: what it works out to is 1 whole egg + 1 extra yellow of the separated 2nd egg for the béchamel , then the beaten white of the separated egg for brushing the tart crust?

    • Theresa
      February 20, 2015 at 6:51 am

      Yes, that’s right.

  15. Rita
    May 16, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    should the Bechemel be as thick almost as condensed soup? 2T flour + 2T butter makes a medium white sauce with ONE cup of milk — seems like this recipe with 2C milk would make a very thin sauce as one poster above mentioned. I haven’t made it yet, but if it should be very thick, seems that it should have 4T flour + 4T butter per CUP of milk …. ? wondering

    • Theresa
      May 17, 2015 at 5:46 am

      I answered your question on facebook, I’ll answer it here. The recipe is correct as posted. It’s been made dozens and dozens of times by dozens of different people. That said, you’re welcome to change it if you prefer.

    • Rita
      May 17, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Thank you so much for a very prompt reply! I will trust you on that. It’s just the sentence “It will be very thick” that made me wonder, as apparently it made another poster wonder who added flour to thicken it up. Going to the kitchen right now to get started on it!

    • Theresa
      May 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Let me know how it turns out…we`ll consider it a recipe test for the cookbook. 🙂

    • Theresa
      May 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Let me know how it turns out…we`ll consider it a recipe test for the cookbook. 🙂

    • Rita
      May 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      It’s in the oven now …. I followed your tutorial for doing the Bechemel exactly & it was thicker than I expected it to be. When it cooled & I added in the egg it thickened slightly more. I also checked every reference I have (last night & again this morning) for white sauce (medium is described in my cookbook as like thick cream), gravy, & Bechemel & each one gives the proportions as 2T flour + 2T butter in 1 Cup of milk. I have no doubt this will turn out well & be delicious. I’m just curious. I generally always try to follow a recipe as given the first time; then vary it if I want. BTW I followed your recipe for the short crust exactly as well. Pie crust has forever been my nemesis & one reason I have liked ‘crustless quiche’ recipes in the past. Will post back when it is done & we have eaten!

    • Theresa
      May 17, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      Because the bechamel gets baked, it can’t have as much flour in it as a cream sauce that doesn’t go into the oven. If it did, you’d have glue when you take it out. I will review my use of the term “very thick” when I’m reviewing all of these recipes for the cookbook. 🙂

  16. Riki Weiner
    May 21, 2015 at 6:10 am

    i am a vegetarian, but eat eggs and cheese!

  17. Elena
    June 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

    We had a Finale viewing party complete with whisky, onion tart, scotch broth, boars tusk “bracelets,” scotch eggs, sweetmeat tarts with clotted cream, decorated kilt sugar cookies and thistle cake-pops. I would love to send you a picture!
    The onion tart bechamel was thick, but, I dinna fash: I just spread it over the onions as much as I could, and as it baked, it spread out. I think the moisture from the onions and the bacon grease 🙂 that I used to saute the onions and leeks in (yes, I used half-onions and half-leeks) enabled it to spread out without any problem. I didn’t put bacon in the tart because I knew we were also having scotch eggs and I didn’t want to overdo the cured meats, what with the prosciutto on the tusks and the sausage on the eggs. The tart was wonderful and I got loads of compliments! Thank you!

    • Elena
      June 3, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Oh, and I used a refrigerated pie crust that I put into my tart pan. It worked!

  18. Anna Lapping
    August 12, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I just read all the comments, and they were quite interesting. I’m sure the addition of the whole egg and one yolk contributes the the consistency of the finished dish after baking. Some ingenious ideas for changes due to cultural or dietary issues. Now I have to try it, it sounds wonderful

  19. Ginni
    August 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    This looks terrific! Please tell me tho: for the “short crust” do I use the same as your “Colum’s Shortbread”? Can’t find any other recipe that’s similar… Thanks

    • Theresa
      August 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      If you click on “Short Crust Dough”, the link will take you to the pastry recipe, Ginni.

  20. Ginni
    August 13, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    thank you! I can’t wait to make this tart this weekend. I just discovered your site and I’m looking forward to trying several of your recipes

    • Theresa
      August 14, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Welcome, Ginni!

Comments are closed.