I've made these delicious tarts a few times over the holiday period and have been asked for the recipe on each occasion so, as I haven't written any food posts for a while, now seems like a good opportunity. The new internet sanctions coming into force may jeopardise all but food and travel blogs in Turkey hence it's time to up my foodie credentials. These tarts can either be made as small bite-size canapés or a large tray bake to serve with salad as a supper dish. When buying chestnuts, choose the biggest ones you can find; in Turkey I favour Bursa Kestane. They are more expensive but are much easier to peel and in the end you will get more cooked chestnuts for your money.
For the pastry
200 gr plain flour
100 gr butter
pinch of salt
For the filling
3 large red onions
200gr white/feta cheese
olive oil for frying
I make my shortcrust pastry the old fashioned way by rubbing the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and then adding chilled water slowly by the tablespoon until the mixture comes together and can be made into a ball. When pushed for time, I've put all ingredients except water into a food processor and whizzed it together before slowly adding the water and this also makes acceptable pastry, but it's not a light as the finger-tip method. Most important is to wrap the pastry ball in film and chill for at least an hour. While it's in the fridge, make the filling by cutting a cross in the rounded side of each chestnut. Place on a tray in an oven preheated to 200C for 20 minutes, turning each chestnut over after 10 minutes. Set aside to cool until you can easily handle them, but don't let them get cold because this makes getting the skins off much more difficult. Peal and chop the onions and fry until soft but not browned in a splash of olive oil.
Roll the pastry as thinly as you can and either cut circles for a tart tin or line a large baking tray, you should have plenty of pastry over to keep in the fridge for another day. Break the pealed chestnuts into smaller pieces and mix into the onions and either fill the tarts with this mixture or spread it over your pastry base. Break the cheese up with a fork (I find rinsing feta in water before I use it improves the flavour) and sprinkle over the onion mix. I bake this for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C. If you have the option to have the heat in the oven coming from the base, you will get crisper pastry.
If you can't find chestnuts or can't be bothered to prepare them, use 100 grams of pine nuts instead.