Salad as a Meal has arrived!

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I am delighted to announce the birth of my latest book, Salad As A Meal! To celebrate, I am sharing a favorite recipe from the  book, a lightened and updated version of the popular Alsatian Onion and Bacon Tart, known as Flammekuchen. While I prepare this with homemade bread or pizza dough, use your favorite recipe or purchased pizza dough.

Alsatian Onion and Bacon Tart: Flammekuchen

This is a memory lane recipe for me: when researching The Food Lover’s Guide to France in the early 1980’s, we found this fragrant onion and bacon tart on the menu everywhere in Alsace, and since then it has become a favorite bread tart. This is a lightened version, prepared with fromage blanc or with yogurt, rather than a richer heavy cream or crème fraîche. Likewise, the onions are steamed rather than cooked in fat, making for an ethereally light tart. Serve it with a simple green salad as a meal, with a glass of chilled Riesling.

Equipment: A baking stone; a steamer; a wooden pizza peel; a metal pizza peel or large metal spatula.

8 ounces large white onions, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into thin matchsticks

1/2 cup (150 g) whole milk Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Flour and polenta for dusting

Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

1  package pizza dough for a 12-inch pizza , shaped into a ball

  1. Place the baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 °  F.
  2. Separate the onions into rings. The onions should yield about 4 cups loosely packed onions.
  3. Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the onions on the steaming rack. Place the rack over simmering water, cover, and steam until the onions are al dente 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the basket from the steamer to drain the onions.  (This can be done 2 to 3 hours before serving.
  4. In a large dry skillet, brown the pancetta over moderate heat until crisp and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to several layers of paper towels to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the pancetta with several layers of paper towel to absorb any additional fat.
  5. In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, nutmeg, onions, and half of the pancetta. Stir to blend.
  6. On a generously floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12- inch round.
  7. Sprinkle the wooden pizza peel with polenta and place the round of dough on the peel.  Working quickly to keep the dough from sticking, assemble the tart: Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining pancetta.  Season liberally with pepper.
  8. Slide the dough off the peel and onto the baking stone. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden, and the top is bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  9. With the metal pizza peel or large spatula, remove the tart from the baking stone. Sprinkle generously with pepper.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 8 wedges.   Serve immediately.

One 12-inch tart

Wine suggestion: A young, fresh dry Alsatian Riesling is in order here: Try one from the reputable firms of  Ostertag or Zind-Humbrecht, crisp, dry, smoky wines with a saline touch of chalky minerality, an even match for the creamy onion and pancetta mixture offset with a hit of black pepper.

Note: If you don’t have a baking stone and a wooden peel, simply sprinkle the polenta on a baking sheet, place the round of dough on top, assemble the tart, and bake on the baking sheet.