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Better than pie: savory squash tart

It’s a strange contradiction in my mind that many kids gobble up pumpkin pie, but gag over winter squash.

A textural thing, I suppose. Silky pie filling, which is actually pureed squash, occupies the other side of a culinary divide from mushy or stringy, cooked-from-fresh counterparts.

But after my previous post acknowledged the cache of winter squash I still have after Thanksgiving, I’m weighing dinner’s success against my determination to serve a squash dish my kids will grudgingly accept. If pie is their preferred context, then it’s a kissing cousin that comes to mind.

This savory tart is rich and cheesy, encased in a crumbly crust that comes together without any rolling. Wild mushrooms are the squash’s umami companion, and given that my sons have recently found success foraging locally, the duo could be hyped for two kids somewhat averse to mushrooms, too.

I would adore this recipe with any and all of fall’s chanterelles, hedgehog, or black trumpets, available at farmers and specialty markets. Dried and reconstituted mushrooms would still work in a pinch.

Tribune News Service photo

Autumn Mushroom and Butternut Tart

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) shredded white cheddar or Swiss cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks

2 egg yolks

1/2 pound peeled butternut squash or unpeeled delicata squash, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Olive oil, as needed

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg and toasted ground cumin, to taste

3/4 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

Fresh sage leaves and sliced scallions, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 F.

To make pastry crust: Place the flour, 1 cup of the cheese and the salt in bowl of a food processor fit with a metal blade. Process for a few seconds to blend, then add the butter. Process for 10 to 20 seconds or until mixture is like fine crumbs.

Using a fork, beat the yolks with 3 tablespoons ice water. With motor running, pour into food processor. Process for about 5 seconds or until dough just comes together.

Crumble dough into an 11-by-7-inch rectangle fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, or a 12-inch round tart pan. Press dough evenly into pan with your fingers, making sure bottom of crust isn’t too thick. Use a fork to prick dough all over.

Press a double-folded piece of foil down into pan. Bake pastry in preheated oven for 12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F. Remove foil and continue baking for about 10 more minutes or until crust is a light golden brown. Cool.

Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then season with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cumin. Spread out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with mushrooms on a second baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until tender, then cool for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheese in bottom of pastry crust. Arrange roasted squash and mushrooms on top, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until cheese is melted, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the herbs and onions.

Serve tart warm or at room temperature, cut into slices.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from “Untamed Mushrooms: From Field to Table” by Michael Karns, Dennis Becker and Lisa Golden Schroeder (Minnesota Historical Press Society Press, $25).