We’ve all had a crush on someone who is objectively, at a minimum, funny-looking. All logic should steer you clear of this individual, yet, through some combination of actual magnetism and hormones running amok, you find him (or her) sexy ugly. Our friends may mock us mercilessly, but we can’t be dissuaded from the notion. After all, imperfection is attractive. And I would apply that notion, above all, to food.

You can definitely go too far with this line of thinking — if it looks like dog food, it’s probably not going to be particularly appetizing. But I’ve never been one to idolize incredibly perfect dishes plated entirely with tweezers. I respect the craft, but wouldn’t choose it for myself. My food is, like me, a bit messy. Even when it’s perfect.

Puff pastry is a favorite vehicle for basically anything, though I rarely use it because it is approximately 1000% butter. But in hunting for some recipe inspiration recently, I decided I would like to make a savory tarte tatin, with caramelized onions instead of apples. And with the remaining scraps of puff pastry, I made a leftovers lunch by topping it with a roasted butternut squash and kale salad I’d made a few days prior. (And goat cheese, for good measure).

Two imperfectly perfect meals, with one buttery crust! Recipes after the jump.

Caramelized Onion Tarte Tatin
Serves 4

3 medium onions, thickly sliced
1 t. chopped thyme
1 t. chopped rosemary
2 T. butter
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. sugar
2 c. vegetable broth
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge for 2+ hours or at room temp for an hour

Caramelize the onions
In a 10″ non-stick oven-proof saute pan (or well-seasoned cast iron pan), melt the butter and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add your onions and sugar and cook over medium-high heat until the onions begin to soften and brown. Add the vegetable stock, cover, and cook for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove the top and raise the heat to high. Continue cooking until the liquid has mostly evaporated and then stir in the balsamic vinegar and herbs. Keep the pan on medium-high heat and stop stirring the onions. Let them cook without touching them until they are significantly caramelized on the bottom — there should still be enough moisture that they don’t burn.

Assemble and bake
Heat your oven to 375. Take your thawed puff pastry and lightly roll it out on a floured board. Cut out a circle of dough slightly larger than your pan and place it on top of the onions, tucking in the edges all around. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and cooked through (don’t undercook puff pastry!). Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Take a plate larger than your tart and place it upside down over your pan. Flip it! If some of the onions stick, just stick them back on top — no one will know the difference.


Leftover Pastry Tart
Serves 1 – 2 for lunch

Cobble together the edges of the puff pastry and roll it out so the seams stick together. Prick the center of the pastry with a fork all over (leaving whatever sized edge you like). Top with any kind of leftover cooked vegetables, a drizzle of olive oil, and maybe some cheese. I used cooked kale, butternut squash, and broccoli. Bake at 375 for 25 – 30 minutes or until crust is done. Eat immediately.