The flavors of this dish warm you up from the richness that fall flavors bring. Squash, apples, sage, toasted walnuts & goat cheese make for a super team of compatriots charging into your stomach fighting Fall hunger. I originally made this dish with feta instead of goat cheese, but it did not stand up to the other flavors after being cooked. Goat cheese does. But of course you can swap ingredients as you desire. Sage, thyme and rosemary are all swingers, who can change partners and compliment each other well. And well, walnuts, pine nuts and almonds fit within the same category, as long as no one has an allergy where you may be unknowingly serving their last meal......
Butternut Squash Tart with Goat Cheese
130 g phyllo dough (6 sheets)
200 g fresh goat cheese (no skin around it)
100 ml cream (or soy cream)
1 egg yolk
350 g butternut squash slices
40 g raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
5 g sage leaves (about 8 lrg.)
2 green apples-peeled & cubed
20 g sweet onion-finely chopped
8 t olive oil
2 T calvados or cognac
2 pinches of dried thyme
First things first, using phyllo dough has one tricky element to it, and that is, it gets dry really fast. So, when using it, take it out of the fridge/package at the last minute, work fast and cover it with a damp towel to protect the sheets that are unused while forming your layers of tart dough.
In a cuisinart or magi mix, place the goat cheese, cream and s&p. Mix the machine until it is all combined and smooth. Add the egg yolk and pulse the machine just to incorporate it slightly. Scoop into a bowl & set aside.
Boil a small pot of water. You will be blanching the squash in it.
Grab your butternut squash and cut widthwise through it at the point where the neck and the rounder part meet. You will be using the meat from the neck because you can cut thin sheets out of it, which will fill the inside of the tart better. I removed the skin from mine, but you can technically leave it on. It has great nutrients and it will be cut so thinly that you won't even notice it. Cut rounds from the neck of the squash that are just a little thicker than 1/2 cm (1/4 of an in.) Once you have about 350 g of it, stop. It should be just enough to fill this tart form.
In the boiling water, drop some salt & the squash in and cook on a simmer for 3 minutes. It needs to be soft, but not all the way cooked through. Remove from the hot water and cool off immediately with cold running water until it is no longer warm. This stops it from cooking any farther. drain and set aside on some paper towels to dry off a bit.
Turn your oven to 200 C (390 F)
Grab a baking tray that is long and flat, cover it with parchment paper, so you have room to work and fold this dough into its form. Get your dough out of the fridge, unroll it and set one of the sheets on the tray with parchment paper. Cover the remaining sheets of phyllo dough with a damp towel. You will be spreading out 1 t of olive oil per sheet with a pastry brush. Do this GENTLY. Phyllo dough is like a fragile person. "Handle with care". When one sheet is all smeared in, set a new one atop the previously smeared sheet making 6 layers in total.
Next, scoop almost all of the goat cheese cream into the middle of the phyllo trying to keep it in the form of a long rectangle. This leaves room on all four sides to fold in the ends. About 4 cm or 1.5-2 inches of space should be folded over in the end. (See photo below...) You want to have 3-4 tablespoons left over of the goat cheese cream for the drizzle on top.
Next add the squash in two, long rows. Within each row, the pieces should slightly overlap each other. Drizzle the rest of the goat cheese cream on top. Break your walnut pieces and sprinkle over the squash. Repeat with the thinly-sliced sage. Salt & pepper the top. Then, on the longer sides of the dough, fold the edges over gently. Repeat with the shorter sides. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or remove once golden brown.
While the tart is baking, you will be making the apple compote. Peel & core the 2 apples. Chop them into small cubes. In a hot pot (medium heat) with 1-2 t oil, cook your chopped onions for about 3 minutes with a lid. Then add the apples & thyme and cook for about 3 minutes on a simmer with a lid, stirring a few times and letting any condensation on the lid to drop back into the pot. Next add the calvados. Calvados is alcohol made from apples from the north of France, so it makes sense to use this. But cognac will work as well. Cook with a lid until the apples get soft and break down when smashed around the pan from being stirred. Add a little s&p, turn off the heat and keep for plating.
If you are serving this as a meal in itself this tart will serve two people, generously. But you can also serve it as an entrée (first course in French) with a salad and it will serve four people well. By each portion, a little of the apple compote should be served atop.
Give it a try!