Saturday, November 13, 2021

Savory Fennel Apple Tarte Tatin - #Thanksgiving #Recipe from @MysteryMacRae


This savory version of tarte Tatin is a delicious vegetarian addition for your Thanksgiving feast. The dish is, traditionally, a dessert—a French upside-down apple tart made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with a little butter and lots of sugar, adding apples, and covering the whole with a pastry crust. The butter and all that sugar turn into caramel while the tart bakes. The caramel becomes the topping when tart is inverted onto the serving plate.

This version also has apples, but only a passing nod to the load of sugar in the dessert. The fennel caramelizes into an amazing experience, while the apples and sage become a delicious sauce. Topping the whole with crumble goat cheese, when the tart comes out of the oven, is optional, but it’s a superb touch.

During this season, I’m thankful for family, friends, and food. My boys have cooked
beside me since they were old enough to watch from their highchairs. Here’s my youngest, Ross, helping a few years ago (34 years ago!). He helped with the Savory Tarte Tatin, too, and we wondered where the name tarte Tatin came from.

We turned to our trusty Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst (a wonderful reference book). They told us the tart was created by a pair of French sisters who lived in the Loire Valley and earned their living making it. Further research found Friends of the Tarte Tatin, a website full of pages of information, including pictures of the sisters—Stéphanie and Caroline—more history of the tart, a recipe, and a bibliography. A fun site!

Savory Fennel Apple Tarte Tatin

Adapted from The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook, by America’s Test Kitchen



1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (9 ½ by 9-inch), store-bought sheets are a great convenience

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon plus one pinch table salt, divided

2 fennel bulbs, stalks discarded (1 bulb cut into 6 wedges, 1 bulb halved, cored, and cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices), look for bulbs that will be about 4 inches tall after trimming

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, halved, and sliced ½ inch thick

4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 ounces (½ cup) goat cheese, crumbled (optional – although it’s a terrific addition)




Adjust oven rack to middle position. Unfold pastry onto lightly floured board or counter and roll into 11-inch square. With pizza cutter of sharp knife, cut pastry into 11-inch circle. Transfer to parchment-paper lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing filling.


Swirl 2 tablespoons oil over bottom of 10-inch nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron skillet, then sprinkle with sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt.


Arrange fennel wedges in pinwheel shape, fanning out from center of circle. Fill in gaps with sliced fennel.


Cook, without stirring, over high heat until fennel turns deep golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes (if pan isn’t sizzling after 2 minutes, cook slightly longer.

Off heat, sprinkle with apple, sage, and ¼ teaspoon salt. (Forgot to take a picture at this point - oops.)

be careful - hot skillet!

Carefully transfer chilled dough to skillet, centering over filling. Being careful of hot skillet, gently fold excess dough up against skilled wall all the way around. With a paring knife, pierce dough evenly over surface 10 times.

mm-mmm, chocolate pockets

We took the scraps of puff pastry, made little pockets, and filled them each with 5 or 6 chocolate chips. We baked them on a small baking sheet while the tart baked (about 15 or 20 minutes).

bake until deep golden brown

Bake tart until crust is deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer skilled to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Run knife around edge of crust to loosen. Using potholders or dish towels, carefully place serving platter on top of skillet, and, holding platter and skillet firmly together, invert tart onto platter. Transfer any fennel that sticks to the tart. Sprinkle with goat cheese. (Also forgot to take a picture with the cheese!)

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

Something poisonous is coming March 1, 2022!

About Argyles and Arsenic – book 5 in the Highland Bookshop mysteries

In the latest novel in the Highland Bookshop Mystery Series, a murder at a baronial manor leads to a poisonous game of cat and mouse—with the women of Yon Bonnie Books playing to win.

Available for pre-order in hardback and e-book from your locally owned independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Or ask your public library to consider ordering it.

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter  or Instagram.




  1. It's funny how my mind works. I see "fennel" in the ingredients and think, "Oh, licorice taste. No thanks."
    And yet I had a meal with fennel roasted with the meat and it was lovely. Why the prejudice. I wonder?
    I may have to make this (with the goat cheese, for sure) just to prove to myself to be more open minded!

    "fold excess dough up against skilled wall" I'm sure you are "skilled" (although I can't speak for the walls!), but I think you mean "skillet",

  2. Ha! You're right, Libby. The walls of my skillet are not so very skilled. I wonder if the licorice flavor disappears when fennel cooks? I've been put off by fresh fennel, but not when it's cooked. If you try this recipe, let me know what you think.

    1. I will.
      Do you arrange the apples as precisely as you do the fennel?

    2. Good question. No, not as precisely. They cook down into a sauce, so you don't see the pieces of apple when the tart is finished.

  3. This will be my first foray into French cooking! My husband loves apple pie & I think the fennel will add an interesting savory taste. I really like fennel sliced in a salad. Thankyou for sharing the recipe.

    1. You're welcome! I hope you like the tart as much as we do.