Post update: On 4/19/11 I entered this recipe into the Foodbuzz BACONALIA challenge for a chance to win.

A couple of weeks ago, food52 put out a call for “your best late winter tart”‘, and the opportunity to be on the Martha Stewart show was offered up to the winner. While I’ve never been much of a tart person, I wasn’t just going to take a pass on this one, folks.

I decided to go the savory route, put on my fanciest (but of course invisible) recipe developer’s hat, and went to work. And work I did: I spent the better part of the week in my kitchen testing tarts. There was a butternut squash, chard and burrata tart (it was pretty good, but I didn’t adore it). I then tested a similar one, but with goat cheese (and still didn’t LOVE it). Finally, I made the tart you see here, which includes bacon that I made for charcutepalooza.

And maple syrup.

It was my favorite.

I played around with different crusts, too: the first was made with organic butter, and in the second, I used a combination of organic butter and pastured leaf lard. I wasn’t thrilled with either one. I then switched gears and settled on the one you see here, which utilizes walnuts and walnut oil (and was inspired by Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini’s Olive Oil Crust).

Sadly (and I mean that, because I effing LOVE Martha), my tart was not selected as a finalist. It did, however, garner a lovely “editor’s pick” review, so I am still very pleased about sharing it with you.

If you can’t find toasted walnut oil, you can definitely substitute olive oil. And if you need your crust to be gluten-free, try the almond flour crust recipe in this post.

Recipe for Bacon, Chard and Walnut Tart

Serves 8

I used a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe.

Ingredients:

Walnut Tart Crust:

* 1 1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup walnut meal (made from whirring walnuts in a blender until fine)
* 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
* 1/4 cup toasted walnut oil
* 1/2 cup ice water (you probably won't use it all)

Bacon, Chard and Walnut Filling:

* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, heated in a hot skillet for a minute or two until "toasted" (be careful not to burn them)
* 1 cup chopped thickly sliced bacon (I used home-cured organic, pastured bacon with no preservatives that I made for charcutepalooza; feel free to use your favorite bacon, preferably one that is thickly sliced
* 1 cup chopped sweet/Vidalia onion
* 1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil
* 1 bunch green chard leaves, chopped
* 4 eggs, preferably organic and free-range
* 1/2 cup organic heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
* 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for optional garnish
* 1 pinch sea salt
* dash of ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, walnut meal, and the salt.

2. Add the toasted walnut oil and mix well.

3. Add about 1/4 cup of the water, and using your hands, mix until it starts to form a dough. Add more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, and keep using your hands to mix until it comes together into a ball.

4. Roll out into a little bigger than the bottom of your tart pan on a floured surface. It's ok if it falls apart a little- it's better not to overwork it and just to press the extra pieces into the tart pan.

5. Rub the bottom and sides of your tart pan with toasted walnut oil and then transfer the rolled-out dough into the tart pan. Using the heel of your hand (or whatever that part of your hand under your thumb is called), press the dough into the bottom and half-way up the sides of your tart pan. Any pieces that broke off while you were rolling can be pressed in now. I am all for charmingly rustic tart crusts, so don't worry if it doesn't look perfect.

6. Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork, then cover with a layer of foil and place pie weights or a layer of dried beans on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the weights/beans and foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until crust just starts to brown and become fragrant. Set aside while you make the tart filling; reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

7. In a cast-iron skillet, cook chopped bacon for several minutes, until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Pour half the bacon fat into another skillet and leave the rest where it is.

8. Add chopped onion to one of the skillets along with the tablespoon of toasted walnut oil. Cook for about 20 minutes over low heat, stirring every now and then, until well caramelized.

9. In the other skillet, cook the chard over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes. until fully wilted. When the onions are done, combine them with the chard, the toasted walnuts, and the cooked bacon in a large bowl. Add the thyme leaves and mix well.

10. Add the eggs, cream, and maple syrup to a small bowl and whisk until blended. Add this to the bacon mixture and combine. Pour into the par-baked tart shell.

11. Place the filled tart pan on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the center of the tart is set, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the tart from the outside and bottom of the pan; garnish with additional fresh thyme if desired before serving.

More Savory Tarts:
Leek and Swiss Chard Tart from Smitten Kitchen
Onion, Apple, and Bacon Tart from Evil Shenanigans
Squash and Kale Tart from Kitchenist