Springtime supper

This cheese and onion tart is a vegetarian-friendly meal for spring

egg og lok

Photo: MatPrat / Mari Svenningsen
This ost og løkpai (cheese and onion tart) is a vegetarian-friendly dish that is equally good for breakfast or dinner. Norwegian pai differs from American pie, with a single crust in a shallower pan with a scalloped edge, similar to a French tart.

CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

I’ve heard from many Norwegians that Easter is their favorite holiday in Norway: The sun is back, the skiing is excellent, and it’s a great time to gather with loved ones to eat chocolate, oranges, and share a good meal.

Even if I’m not cooking for a crowd this Easter season, I have a springtime dish that I am excited to serve for my family: ost og løkpai, a cheese and onion tart.

easter

Photo: Matprat / Alf Børjesson
Easter is a favorite holiday for many Norwegians, and it’s easy to see why: The sun is shining, the skiing is good, and it’s time to be with loved ones.

Pai is a dish that I find often on Norwegian food blogs and food websites. Norway’s pai differs from its double-crusted American counterpart: It’s a single crust in a shallower pan with a scalloped edge, similar to a French tart. A pai can feature sweet fillings, such as karamellisert epler (caramelized apples) or rababra (rhubarb) for dessert, or savory fillings for an entrée, such as kylling (chicken), skinke (ham), or a rainbow of vegetarian options.

This custardy ost og løkpai (cheese and onion tart) is vegetarian-friendly, comes together quickly, and it’s equally good for breakfast as it is for dinner. I like to serve it with a salad for a complete meal. I hesitate to call it a quiche, because a true quiche doesn’t have cheese in it, and this has a good amount of cheese.

Speaking of cheese, I combined a few types. I grated some nutty Jarlsberg, tangy white cheddar, and some parmesan. Mozzarella and goat cheese would be good here too!

As much as I love a multi-step baking project, I only make pie a couple times a year. Why? Because of the crust! So many things can go wrong with crust: butter temperature, sticking or tearing while rolling it out, or shrinking during the blind baking. It can feel like too much work for the final result.

That said, I found a pie crust recipe that is buttery, flaky, doesn’t require special ingredients or tools, and is (nearly) fool-proof. It’s by Stella Parks, renowned American pastry chef and author of BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. I love her scientific approach to recipes! 

If you don’t have a go-to pie crust recipe, here is the link to Parks’ Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Crust Recipe: seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/06/old-fashioned-flaky-pie-dough-recipe.html.

Does the crust make you want to skip this recipe? Thankfully, egg-based pai can easily be made “uten bunn,” or without the crust! All you need to do is adjust the ratio of eggs and milk. You’ll find the variation below.

What do you serve for Eastertime celebrations? Do you have a favorite pai in Norway? I’d love to hear from you? Write to me at food@na-weekly.com.

Ost og løkpai
Cheese and Onion Tart
By Christy Olsen Field

1 9-inch pie crust, parbaked so it’s lightly golden 

1 tbsp. butter 

1 large onion (about 2 cups), thinly sliced 

Salt and pepper to taste 

3 eggs 

1. cups whole milk 

1 tbsp. thyme (fresh or dried) 

1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped 

2 cups (8 oz.) grated white cheese, such as Jarlsberg, white cheddar, or parmesan 

1 sweet pepper, sliced into rings (optional) 

Special equipment: 9-inch pie pan 

Here’s how you make it: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. 
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat and add the onions. Season with salt, and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. You want to drive off most of the liquid. 
  3. Pour the onions in the parbaked pie crust, and scatter with half of the cheese. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and thyme until frothy. Pour over the onions and cheese mixture. 
  5. Top with the remaining cheese, and add sliced rings of pepper, if desired. 
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the edges are set and the center jiggles a bit. 
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve. 

Make it crustless and gluten-free: Butter the 9-inch pie pan. Increase the number of eggs to 6 total, and decrease the milk to . cup. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes until golden brown and set 

This article originally appeared in the March 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Christy Olsen Field

Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. She worked on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is also a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area.

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