caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

There was a time when I felt I could never own a non-stick skillet that would last for a long time. They’d either get scratched and stripped, it drove me nuts. It ended up being true, I’d have limited luck with non-stick cookware. But they were convenient or so I thought until I picked up my first cast iron skillet some odd seven years ago.My skillet is probably one of the most abused pieces of cookware I own, I often start my day with it (eggs at breakfast) and then end up cooking dinner in it almost every other day. I’ve even used it as a weight to make pressed sandwiches and squeeze the liquid out of paneer, there’s a lot that this marvelous beast can achieve.

Now America’s Test Kitchen
has a new cookbook out that’s all about cooking with cast iron skillets, Cook It In Cast Iron . There are a lot of different recipes to choose from and useful kitchen tricks and hacks to show you how to season and take care of your skillet. The book is a must have especially if you want to explore the versatility of your cast iron skillet

This savory tart is easy and I took a couple of liberties with the original recipe in the book. I skipped the bacon and used olive oil. The onions get caramelized in the skillet and simultaneiusly get infused with the delicious flavor of nigella seeds. Add some creamy goat cheese and pears and this is one delicious tart – dinner or as a snack! 

The kind folks at America’s Test Kitchen are helping me give away a copy of this lovely book to one lucky reader from here. All you need to do is leave a comment below sharing what you would love to learn to make with your cast iron pan. The contest will run from a week from May 20 to May 26th, 2016. The contest is only open to legal US residents and please don’t forget to leave your email so I can directly contact you! Good luck and happy cooking!

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this tart;

  • Use good quality pears in this recipe.
  • I’ve substituted chives with the green part of scallions. Either works well.
  • Nigella seeds are tiny black seeds, you should be able to find them in most Indian or International grocery stores or even the International aisle section. 

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart  | A Brown Table

caramelized onion, nigella and pear tart (from the Cook’s Country, America’s Test Kitchen, Cook it in Cast Iron, 2016)

yields: 8 to 10 servings


for the topping:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds onions (I used red), halved and sliced into 1/4 inch thick

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used a 4 month aged vinegar from Camino, a local restaurant in Oakland, CA)

1 lb pizza dough

1 Bosc pear, quartered (or halved), cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or thinly sliced scallions

1. Adjust oven rack to upper middle-position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions, nigella, salt and pepper, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 8 to 10minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep golden , about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and cook, until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes; transfer to the bowl.

2. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and then grease with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured counter, divide in half and cover with greased plastic wrap. Press and roll 1 piece of dough (keep remaining dough covered) into 11-inch round. Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet and gently push it to the corners of the pan. Spread half of the onion mixture over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Scatter half of the pear and 1/2 cup goat cheese evenly over the top. 

3. Set skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the outside edge of the dough is set, tart is lightly puffed, and bottom crust is spotty brown when gently lifted with the spatula, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until edge of the tart is golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. 

5. Using potholders, remove skillet from oven and slide tart onto wire rack; let cool slightly. Being careful of hot skillet handle, repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, dough and toppings. Sprinkle tarts with chives/scallions and cut into wedges. Serve. 


Pizza dough

yields: 1 lb


2 cups (11 ounces) plus  tablespoons bread flour

1 1/8 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

3/4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

1 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)  

1. Pulse flour, yeast, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 5 pulses. With processor running, add oil, then water, and process until rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds. Let dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer. (If after 30 seconds dough is very sticky and clings to blade, add extra flour as needed). 

2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 1 minute. Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Alternatively dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours). 

10 Responses

  1. Nik this is amazing, I love the flavour combinations here, very well done.

    By the way – this isn’t an entry into the comp as I’m in the UK, but I’m just commenting as normal.

  2. This tart looks marvellous Nik! I just recently acquired a whole set of cast iron and I really haven’t used them enough. Thanks for the inspirational push to get me hooked!

  3. Pear and onion and goat cheese and balsamic ON PIZZA DOUGH?! This is my "eating with friends on the weekend" DREAM! Love the sound of this!

  4. I have my own cast iron frying pan (big), and I have my mother’s (medium) and my grandmother’s (small). I don’t use them on a daily basis because studies have shown that too much iron can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. But they are awesome for many things. My favorite thing to make in my big pan is cornbread. It would be interesting to try a gluten-free cake in it.

  5. Simple yet elegant, this is what food should be, love the combinations used here. Perfect accompaniment with some grilled meat/vegs.

  6. I pretty much only use my cast iron as a skillet for eggs, veggies, and the like. Need to branch out to baked goods.

  7. This tart looks so beautiful and yummy! I’ve been using my cast iron for many years. Mostly for the same recipes my mom did…all wonderful and comforting dishes but I’m really excited about trying this and other recipes using my cast iron. Thank you Nik!

  8. I’d love a copy of this book! Would really like to get better at eggs in cast iron and try my hand at some 1-skillet dinners.

  9. what a beautiful tart. I love my cast iron pans. My only regret is that I don’t have my mother’s and my grand mother’s, but recently I found out that one of my sons has them. Great! I would love to learn how to bake desserts in mine. I use them mostly for frying.

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