Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart

DSC05089I was inspired to make this tart when I read about all of the amazing pies, tarts and quiches that were featured at this year’s Pie Palooza, a fundraiser for REAP Food Group, a local organization that “connects producers, consumers, businesses, and organizations to grow a healthful, just, and sustainable local food system in Southern Wisconsin.” There was everything from roasted butternut squash, wild rice, swiss chard, and Gruyére quiche to hickory nut bourbon caramel pie. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the event, but it still inspired me to want to bake a pie and experiment with fall flavors.

First, I made Deb Perelman’s Deepest Dish Apple Pie from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It was amazing—enough pie to feed an army, or in our case, pie every day for a week for two. Next, I tried my hand at creating my own version of a butternut squash, wild rice, swiss chard and Gruyére quiche. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. For my final attempt, I decided to stick with a solid recipe that was featured in Gourmet magazine in the fall of 1998. I figured when 97% of reviewers indicated that they would make the tart again, that had to be a good sign. Turns out that was my experience as well. I loved this roasted butternut and caramelized onion tart—the flavors from the butternut squash, onion, grated cheeses and fresh herbs are wonderful together. The fine fresh bread crumbs on top are a fantastic addition. Paired with sides of sautéed Swiss chard and wild rice, it made for a delicious fall dinner. And with that, I think I’ve taken care of my urge to make tarts, pies and quiches—at least until Thanksgiving.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart (from Gourmet, November 1998; serves 6-8)

pastry dough
pie weights or raw rice for weighting shell
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 fine fresh bread crumbs

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.

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