Roasted Butternut Squash Tart
It’s hard to believe it’s already August! I know everyone says the same thing every year, but this year is flying by. I don’t know if it’s because we’re all getting older, or if it’s simply because our lives are so much busier than in years past, but it really feels like summer just began and I am already gearing up for fall. It might also simply be a case of wishful thinking since I am so over this hot weather we’ve been having recently. Bring on the cooler weather with hot chocolate, bonfires and dishes consisting of lots of fall fruits and vegetables! As I am writing this morning, I am being viciously loved by our eight week old kitten, Kevin. Initially, we named him Kevin after Kevin McAllister from Home Alone, but then we realized the name was actually six-degrees of separation from our departed kitty, John Milton, named for the Al Pacino character from The Devil’s Advocate. I’m totally going to blame the kitten when I say I am seeking out comfort food. The lack of sleep and the difficulty of working interrupted is giving me an idea of what actual parenthood is like and let me tell you, I am not a fan.
Recently, while in my local grocery store, I was a bit too excited to see that butternut squash was already out on display. I know, it’s only August. But I couldn’t help myself. Please tell me I’m not the only one!
Before I dive into today’s delicious recipe, I’d like to share a word on cutting butternut squash. For those of us women, who are, let’s just say, 98-pound weaklings, cutting a butternut squash in half is a better workout than the gym or carrying around a 25-pound bag of sugar. Since I didn’t want to waste my entire morning struggling to cut a beautiful two-pound gourd, I reached for the scariest knife in my knife block: the Shun vegetable cleaver. It worked like a charm! I didn’t even break a sweat or come close to cutting my thumb off. If you have a couple hundred extra bucks lying around, I highly recommend the investment, especially when it comes to hard to cut vegetables.
Anywho, back to this yummy roasted butternut squash tart recipe.
With California still experiencing sweltering heat, I had to think outside of the box and not cook my two go-to butternut squash dishes: butternut squash risotto and butternut squash soup. My favorite way to cook butternut squash is to roast it with a little bit of butter and a pinch of sugar, which gives it a silky texture and makes it a tad bit sweeter, which is perfect for appetizers!
I set out to make something that’s not only easy to make, but I really wanted to incorporate ingredients that most of us have in our refrigerators and pantries so there’s no need to head out to the grocery store for one thing that you don’t already have. As I’ve said before, puff pastry is the one thing that belongs in everyone’s freezer. It’s incredibly versatile and takes very little effort to transform it into something that wow’s your dinner guests. I kind of went back to the drawing board and thought of some very simple flavor combinations that I love with butternut squash: parmesan cheese, nutmeg, sage, pecans, apricots and more butter.
In a word: this will be the perfect vegetarian appetizer to serve throughout the holidays!
Combine all of that with a flakey crust and you’re dealing with the closest thing to perfection as humanly possible. Instead of solely relying on parmesan cheese, I made a blend of cream cheese and parmesan cheese, a tiny bit of sugar and some nutmeg and cinnamon, which was delightful. The best part of this appetizer is: it can be made completely ahead of time and served at room temperature! So that means you can put it together long before your dinner guests are arriving and have it ready to be devoured when they walk in the front door!
For a brief moment, I considered adding roasted apricots to the top, but in the end, this recipe is all about butternut squash and finding a reason for squash-haters to be converted. I even used my pumpkin-hating husband as a guinea pig as this recipe was going through the development stages.
He kept complaining he needed something a but sweeter to go along with the squash, so I elected to melt a but of apricot preserves and brush it over the top of the entire tart which really gave this recipe both savory and sweet elements.
- 1 pound, peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon unsalted melted butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch brown sugar
- 1 sheet, cold puff pastry
- 1/2 cup softened cream cheese
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon chopped roasted pecans
- 1 teaspoon chopped toasted sage
- 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese