Onion Pie with Parmesan and Thyme

If you reside on this side of the Atlantic (and haven’t watched New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS) you’ve probably never heard of Andreas Viestad. I know I hadn’t. Usually when it comes to food and food related things I have a lesson or two to teach Gourmand. This time around though, it was he introducing me to Mr. Viestad, the vaunted Norwegian chef, TV personality and blogger.

It began as a search to discover whether or not heirloom tomatoes existed in Norway, a fact that I seriously dispute. Search after search kept yielding results based around Viestad’s South Aftrican farm on which he grows more then 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and from which he sources produce. After a cursory look at the website, Gourmand recognized Viestad as the author of a weekly column on “The Best Thing in The World” in a Norwegian daily, and mentioned that he used to really like his writings and recipes. Two days later Viestad’s first English-language cookbook magically appeared on our doorstep. Surprising!

As Scandinavian cuisine becomes more chic and restaurants like NOMA and Faviken continue to produce imaginative, extraordinary and impossible to recreate dishes, Viestad sticks to what he knows; good old fashioned Nordic cuisine.  The sort of thing he grew up eating. Cod, Potatoes, Cloud Berries, Salmon. Seasonal dishes that he still prepares and has recreated in his thoughtful, beautiful cookbook Kitchen of Light: The New Scandinavian Cooking, ($16.41 in paperback). While the book offers nothing groundbreaking it goes far to discuss the seasonality of Scandinavian food, the vast and curious combinations of flavors often found in the cuisine, and the thoughtful, exacting preparation required to prepare many of the dishes. It is a wonderful, accessible look into a cuisine, people and area of the world that few people have a proper understanding of. The recipes are vivid, flavorful and varied, with everything from Rhubarb Soup to Bacalao and back again.

Below you will find our first foray into Viestad’s recipes. A simple, delicious, and flavorful tart that uses few ingredients and yields great results. Considering how good the tart was we’ll be sure to post more of his fresh, beautiful recipes in the future.

Onion Pie with Parmesan and Thyme (serves 4)

2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup grate Jarlsberg, Gouda, Parmsan or Gruyere cheese
2 tsp fresh thyme

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are soft but not brown. Season with salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 400F

Line and medium size oven proof dish with the puff pastry. Remove the cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaf from the onions and discard. Place the onions in the dish and top with grated cheese and 1 tsp of thyme. Bake in the oven on the lowest rack for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Just before serving sprinkle on the remaining 1 tsp of thyme.