Thanksgiving Appetizers: Butternut Squash Tartlet Recipe

Thanksgiving Appetizers: Butternut Squash Tartlet Recipe Recipe

Thanksgiving festivities are right around the corner, so it's time to play with fall flavors. Today, I wanted to prepare a savory tart using butternut squash and finally decided to prepare individual portions because they would look even cuter and be easier to eat.

I made a regular butter crust, but I flavored it with green onions and sweet basil. I filled the mini tarts with creamed butternut squash. Then I balanced the texture with a lacy cheese topping by pan-frying slices of sharp Cheddar cheese. It was literally easy as pie. 

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

1¼ cups all-purpose flour + 2½ tablespoons for filling
1¼ teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg
3 tablespoons ice water
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons sweet basil, chopped
½ butternut squash
4 tablespoons olive oil, diced
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk, warm
6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced
2 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

For the tart shell:

In a mixing bowl, combine 1¼ cups flour and ¾ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and add 8 tablespoons of cold butter, 1 egg and ice water. Blend until the mixture becomes thick. Add 2 tablespoons each of green onions and sweet basil. Make sure not to over-mix it. 

Dust a flat surface with additional flour. Place the dough and roll it out into 8 3-inch dough rounds.

Transfer to a mini muffin pan: Line 8 cavities with parchment paper. Following the curve of the muffin mold, crimp the dough against the edge and remove the excess a little above the edge (the dough will shrink a bit while it bakes). Prick the dough with a fork to prevent it from rising too much. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 5 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 20 minutes. Optional: Once cooled, invert the tartlets and even out the top edges so the appetizers are straight and more "professional looking".

Making butternut squash purée:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the butternut squash in half, vertically. Remove the seeds and the strings in the center.

Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, molasses, ginger, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spread the mixture all over the butternut squash. Place the halves, flesh side down, on a greased baking sheet and roast them at 420°F for 25 minutes (depending on the size of the  butternut squash, until soft). Let the butternut squash cool completely. Scoop out and gather the flesh. Mash until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Making the butternut squash filling:

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden. Transfer over the butternut squash. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same saucepan over medium-low heat; you don't want it to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add 2½ tablespoons flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Add the warm milk and stir well until fully incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 ounces Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the butternut squash and mix until well combined. 

Assembly:

Heat a pan. Once hot, place 8 small slices of Cheddar cheese and pan-fry until they harden and become lacy. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Fill the tartlets with a "quenelle" of creamed butternut squash: using 2 tablespoons, gather one portion of the mixture in one spoon. Scrape the loose mixture from the sides using the other spoon. Repeat between the 2 spoons until the mound is tightly packed. Slide the mound of butternut squash onto the top of the tartlet. Arrange the pan-fried Cheddar cheese and garnish with parsley.

Serve warm with a salad.

Bon appétit!


Tips

Instead of making individual-serving sizes, you could form one large tart.

You can use any other vegetables that are in season and purée them into a smooth texture.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 11, 2014.


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