This vegan caramelized onion galette (a.k.a. freeform tart) has a flaky, homemade coconut oil crust and savory cashew “ricotta”.
Every Thanksgiving season, I have a goal – a duty, even! – to come up with plant-based recipes that are impressive, delicious, and substantial enough to be considered a “main”. Let’s face it, no one really loves turkey, but it is the centerpiece, and a vegan Thanksgiving isn’t complete without something in its place.
This year, one of the mains I’m making is this caramelized onion galette. This thing is so not basic, you guys! It’s extremely indulgent and packed with flavor, and even a small sliver of it will satisfy you. Most importantly, it meets all three of my vegan main course criteria: hearty texture, impressive presentation, heavy on umami.
In my experience, anything with caramelized onions and/or enveloped in a flaky crust is an instant crowd pleaser. That’s why I decided to combine last year’s crostini and sweet potato galette recipes into one love child. Let’s jump in!
What’s In This Caramelized Onion Galette
This savory vegan “galette” (a.k.a. freeform tart) has 3 elements: flaky crust, savory cashew “ricotta”, and sweet, earthy balsamic caramelized onions. If this is your first time making pastry crust and caramelized onions, the processes may feel a bit finicky, so be sure to read all the tips below and follow my instructions carefully.
All 3 elements can be made several days in advance, then assembled and baked day-of, which significantly reduces the stress of cooking on Thanksgiving itself. More good news: once you master this dough, you can use it for all types of sweet and savory vegan tarts/galettes, and even pies and quiches.
Start the Cashew Ricotta: First, soak the cashews. This step softens and helps them blend up into rich, creamy goodness. Measure out the nuts, cover them with boiling water, and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Make the Dough: Measure out about 2/3 cup water and add ice; set aside for a few minutes. Next, measure out your flour, add it to a large bowl, and whisk in the salt. Add the coconut oil and incorporate it into the flour with a fork until it’s roughly the size of peas. Fish out the ice from the water and gradually sprinkle in the cold water while continually tossing the flour mixture. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gather it into a disc, gently pressing it together with your hands. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. (More tips for the crust below)
Make the Onions: Thinly slice the onions and place in a large non-stick skillet with some oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid (you wanna trap that steam!) and cook until they’ve released some of their water, about 5 minutes. Then uncover and cook over a very tiny flame for a very long time – about 1 hour. Don’t forget to stir frequently. If the onions start to look dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of water. They’re done when they’re dark caramel-colored and pasty. Stir in the balsamic at the very end.
Finish the Ricotta: Drain and transfer the cashews to a food processor, along with miso, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water. Puree until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese and has a rich mouthfeel.
Roll Out the Dough: Take the dough out of the fridge and rest at room temp for a few minutes before rolling. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter, rolling pin, and dough to prevent sticking. Then start rolling. When you achieve a rectangular-ish shape about 3/4-inch-thick, fold the dough into thirds (like folding a letter for an envelope). Roll out a little more, then fold again, this time meeting the 2 short ends in the middle (so it looks like an open book). Finally, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Fill the Dough: Spread the ricotta across the dough in an even layer, leaving about a 2-inch border. Spread the onions evenly on top (I do this with my hands). Then fold the border over the fillings. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, 45-60 minutes.
Tips for Making This Vegan Pastry Crust
Making a good pastry crust – a traditional butter one or this coconut oil one – requires a bit of practice and confidence. Here’s what to keep in mind…
- Coconut oil temperature: Coconut oil changes states based on temperature – it’s liquid when warm, solid when cold, and somewhere in between (I call this “scoopable”) at room temp. For this crust, it needs to be scoopable. If you need to harden yours up, place it in the fridge for a few minutes. It’s OK if it’s closer to solid here – but it should definitely not be liquid.
- Incorporate water gradually: Sprinkle in the water gradually while continually tossing the dough. Stop adding water when you see large clumps forming. It’s OK if the dough looks a little dry for now – it will hydrate fully while resting in the fridge.
- Don’t overwork the dough: Once you get the dough on the counter, handle it as minimally as possible while shaping it into a disc. Avoid kneading, as this will result in a tough dough. (You also don’t want to overwork it while rolling it out later, for the same reason).
- Work quickly: Handling the dough too much with your warm hands may melt the coconut oil, which you don’t want.
Tips for Caramelizing Onions
Properly caramelized onions have an intense, sweet-savory flavor, pasty texture, and dark caramel color. This is achieved by coaxing out and reducing the onions’ moisture and gently (very gently!) browning them. The process takes about an hour and anyone who says you can do it faster is lying. (Magic requires patience, people!) There are two steps involved…
- First, cook sliced onions in a skillet covered with a lid. This traps the onions’ moisture inside the skillet and allows them to soften.
- Second, uncover the skillet and gently brown the onions over a very low flame. You do not want the onions to get crispy. You want a slow softening process and a gradual transformation from white to caramel-colored. If you notice the onions browning too fast, lower the heat. If they’re drying out, add a tablespoon of water.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Store-bought Crust: If making the dough from scratch is too intimidating, skip the whole ordeal and get a store-bought one. It’s the holidays – live a little!
- Coconut Oil: Be sure to use “refined” coconut oil here, which is completely neutral since it’s had its coconutty flavor stripped away. Use organic and virgin/cold-pressed whenever possible.
- Raw Cashews: Have a sweet, mild flavor, and rich, creamy texture, which makes them perfect for vegan cheese. Raw blanched almonds, sliced almonds, or pine nuts make good substitutes. If you’re allergic to nuts, use sunflower seeds.
- Miso: Adds a “cheesy” savory taste. Look for miso in the refrigerated section (next to tofu, kimchi, etc.) or in the international foods aisle.
If you like the idea of a savory galette, try sweet potatoes + rosemary, or Yukon Gold potatoes + thyme, in place of the caramelized onions. To make a sweet tart with this dough, fill it with sliced apples or pears sprinkled with sugar.
More festive recipes this way…
- Muhammara (Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)
- Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie
- The Ultimate Vegan Snack Board
- Fall Farro Salad
This vegan caramelized onion galette (a.k.a. freeform tart) has a flaky coconut oil crust, cashew “ricotta”, and sweet caramelized onions.
For the Cashew Ricotta
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons white miso
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup water
For the Dough* (see note 1 below)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, at a scoopable consistency *(see note 2 below)
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
For the Caramelized Onions
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6–7 small yellow onions (about 1 3/4 pounds), thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Start the ricotta. Place 1 cup cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the dough. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup coconut oil and incorporate it into the flour by mashing with a fork until the oil is roughly the size of peas (it’s okay if some pieces are larger/smaller). Then gradually sprinkle in the ice water while tossing the mixture; stop adding water when you see large clumps forming. It’s OK if the dough looks dry and shaggy for now.
- Turn it out onto the counter. Working quickly, gather the dough with your hands and shape it into a disc, being careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes (or up to several days). Don’t worry if the dough seems dry at this point – it will hydrate fully in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, start the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and lots of pepper, and toss to coat. Cover tightly with a lid and cook until the onions have released some of their liquid, about 5 minutes.
- Uncover, reduce the heat to very low, and cook until the onions are brown and pasty, stirring frequently, about 1 hour. If the onions start to get crispy, turn the heat down. If the onions look too dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of water. When they’re done, stir in the vinegar, and turn the heat off.
- Finish the ricotta. Drain the cashews and place in a food processor or Vitamix. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons miso, 1 garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until everything is broken down. Add 1/4 cup water and puree until creamy.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Roll out the dough: Take the dough out of the fridge and rest at room temp for a few minutes before rolling. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter, rolling pin, and dough to prevent sticking. Roll into a rectangular-ish shape about 3/4-inch-thick and fold the dough into thirds (like folding a letter for an envelope). Roll out again, then fold again, this time meeting the 2 short ends in the middle (so it looks like an open book). Finally, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If the dough start to feel wet/sticky at this point, firm it up in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Spread the ricotta on the dough in an even layer, leaving a 2-inch border, and top with the onions. Fold the border over the fillings.
- Bake until the crust is lightly golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
- If making the dough from scratch is too intimidating, just use a store-bought one.
- If your oil is entirely liquid, measure it out and place it in the fridge for up to 15 minutes until it’s opaque and scoopable.
- Serving Size: 1/10 of the recipe
- Calories: 330
- Fat: 20.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 33.4 g
- Fiber: 2.9 g
- Protein: 6 g
Keywords: cashew, thanksgiving, galette, tart, caramelized onions