As much as I am seduced by a counter chock full of vine ripened tomatoes, I am happy to let go of summer produce and jump right into fall and winter vegetables. The squash varieties (delicata, pumpkin, acorn, kabocha, spaghetti and butternut) that are now readily available at the market can be turned into side dishes, soups, main courses and even desserts. I must say that I cooking enjoy all of them, but have a real fondness for butternut.
Last weekend I had friends in for lunch and knew that I wanted to serve a vegetable tart and a salad. My thoughts turned immediately to using butternut squash, the sweetest of the winter squashes. This recipe from Epicurious was exactly what I had in mind. The creamy filling bursts with the flavor of the caramelized onions and fresh herbs. Don’t even think of foregoing the bread crumbs as they lend a little bit of crunch to the tart.
Take a look at Ciao Chow Linda’s Mac n Cheese with Butternut Squash for a wonderful winter meal and here are a few of my favorite squash recipes:
Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Tart
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil plus about 2 teaspoons for brushing squash
1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole large egg
1/2 large egg yolk (1/2 tablespoon)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Italian Fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup crumbled mild soft goat cheese (about 1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup ice water
Cut butter into pieces. In a food processor blend flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with remainder in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Add 2 tablespoons of water and pulse just until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: If it does not hold together, add enough remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing and testing, until mixture just forms a dough. Form dough into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 12-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fit dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Freeze shell 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake shell in middle of oven until edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake shell 10 minutes more, or until bottom is golden. Leave oven on. Cool shell in pan on a rack.
Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Lightly brush each cut side with about 1 teaspoon oil and on a baking sheet roast squash, cut sides down, in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until soft.
While squash is roasting, thinly slice onion and in a heavy skillet cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Cool squash and scoop out flesh. In a food processor purée squash. Add whole egg, egg yolk, and cream and blend well. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in cheeses, herbs, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour filling into shell, smoothing top.
In a small skillet melt remaining tablespoon butter and stir in bread crumbs until combined well. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over filling. Bake tart in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool tart in pan on rack 10 minutes and carefully remove rim.