Simple Butternut Squash Tart Recipe

Puff pastry serves as the foundation for this simple yet eye-popping butternut squash tart. The golden crust supports a ricotta cheese slather, caramelized onions, thin slices of bright orange squash, and goat cheese.

Simple Butternut Squash Tart

This simple, vibrantly colored butternut squash tart recipe provides a nice amount of payoff for the minimal amount of effort that goes into it. I get invited to a lot of potlucks, at least one or two per month, so I've been trying to develop a repertoire of quick but delicious recipes for these occasions. Let me talk up the potluck concept a bit more. In addition to sampling a wide range of dishes prepared by your friends, they are also great for workshopping new ideas and trading recipes (cooking club get-togethers are fun too). That being said, if I don't have a solid game plan, I end up spending an entire day thinking about what I want to make, shopping and locating the ingredients, all before I get down to the actual cooking and party-going.

For a while I was hooked on "big bowls." You know, family-style vessels that contain all the necessary components of a dish. For example, this Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad, or this Otsu, or one of my favorites...Golden, Crispy Gnocchi. You get all the grains, vegetables, cheese, pasta, dressing, seasoning, whatever - all in every scoop, no fussy condiments to dunk or dip or slather. It can function as a one-dish meal for those times you aren't into the other offerings on the table, alternately this sort of thing can make a nice side dish if you are a chronic sampler. Bases are covered.

I had to pull something together the other night for a potluck get-together with some of my girlfriends, and my aim was to break the big bowl rut.

While I was in New Zealand my friend Hadley (the one who was nice enough to provide food and shelter for us during the post-camper van portion of our NZ trip), whipped up a delicious savory tart one night in no time flat. A simple slather of ricotta (and a bit of egg) topped with tomato and basil on a golden, puff pastry platform. She said it was a Bill Granger staple, came together in a snap, and never fails to be a crowd-pleaser.

Bill Granger is huge in New Zealand. You see cookbooks by the Sydney-based restaurateur in every book store. You find his tanned face and bright smile beaming from the pages of magazine after magazine. His recipes are simple and straightforward, the photography (by Petrina Tinsley) always clean, informative, and inspiring.

Because it isn't exactly tomato season on this side of the globe, I decided to do a winter remix of the tart we ate at Hadley's. I peppered the ricotta base with flecks of caramelized onions and topped it with thin cross-sections of butternut squash and artisan goat cheese - both with rind intact for a more rustic look. You could do individual versions of these (see pic) as well.

Before posting the recipe I'd like to welcome any new readers coming from Food & Wine magazine! For those of you who are interested in getting a sneak peek at a few recipes from Super Natural Cooking before it comes out (3/1), you can find them along side a profile in Food & Wine this month (Feb/2007) - on the website as well. The article is titled, How to be a Natural Cook.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who voted for 101 Cookbooks in the Best Food Blog - Recipes category. I promise to keep at it.

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Simple Butternut Squash Tart

You can make this in a pan or free form, one big one, or multiple smaller ones. I had caramelized onions left over from a previous recipe so I used them in the ricotta - don't be afraid to experiment with seasonal ingredients. You could even sweeten up the ricotta a bit when summer comes around and do a stone fruit or berry version. I very rarely use puff pastry, but when I do, I look for Dufour, it is made with real butter and is outrageously delicious. Other brands are made with shortening/partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

It is easy to scale the ricotta filling in this recipe for use in different sized pans or multiple tarts. Use 1 cup ricotta to 1 egg.

1 package of puff pastry dough
zest of one lemon

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg plus one egg yolk
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

10 very thin (1/8-inch) slices of butternut squash (I cut rounds from the neck of the squash), pre-cook them in a bit of olive oil in a covered pan for 2-3 minutes before using them on the tart

6 - 10 very thin slices of goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Thaw the puff pastry dough. Put it out on a lightly floured counter top and roll it out a bit thinner - roughly 1/8-inch. Be sure to roll it to fit your tart pan if you are using one (again, you can make this tart free form w/ no pan if you like). Leave about an inch worth of edges draped over the pan (you will need to fold this back in over the filling later. Prick the dough in the middle of the tart a few times with the tines of a fork, and sprinkle most of the lemon zest right onto the rolled-out dough.

In a small bowl mix the ricotta, one egg, onions and salt together. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the base of the tart. Don't go quite all the way to the edge, it makes it hard to fold the edges over later. Arrange the slices of squash on top, and the slices of goat cheese on top of the squash.

Fold the edges of the pastry back in toward the filling (an inch or so). Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tart shell is golden and the filling has set.

Serve warm, cut into small slices (it is quite rich) sprinkled with any remaining lemon zest and a bit of pepper (I used red peppercorns this time around).

This will make one six/seven-inch square tart or multiple smaller tarts.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I have been reading your blog for a while but never posted a comment. This is the perfect occasion to start : congratulations for the article in Food & Wine, the award and the book. It is well deserved. I wish you a lot of success for the future.

vikram phaneendra

I made this a few days ago. I didn't have butternut squash, but did have a Kobucha squash. It tasted great! I even had it for breakfast. It is very rich though. Now I'll have to try the puff pastry you recommended. P.S.: I love this blog. I usually lurk, but I have tried a handful of your recipes--always really good!


I love butternut squash and this looks like a great use for it! I posted a butternut squash risotto recipe recently that was also quite good.


That looks lovely!


Many congrats to you Heidi. Your recipes are always truly glorious and of the "I want this right now" type! Healthy, colorful. Like this one!

bea at La tartine gourmande

Congratulations on the F&W article, just bought my copy yesterday

Chicken Fried Gourmet

That tart looks delicious, I think I might try out the potluck concept on friends here - it is not something that familiar in the UK. I have been lurking here for a while and hope it is ok that I have put a link to your site on my new blog I'm looking forward to reading the book. Gemma x


Congratulations on the book!!! And, the tart looks divine! I'll have to try this one. I love it's rustic look.

Just found you via new Food and wine- thanks, look forward to perusing all your recipes more!


Thanks everyone. It's funny, my mom called last night and said a friend from work came into work with the article and they passed it around the lab (she hadn't seen it yet)... Cybele, Thanks for the heads up, I'll look into it - it happens every so often. Super annoying. Hungrygirl, the first thing that came to mind when I read your comment was frozen, homemade spring rolls. You could fill, roll, and freeze a bunch and then grab a dozen or so for your next potluck and bake them off onsite without making a mess of the hosts kitchen (an important consideration). I've done this a few times and it is a breeze.


sounds good, I shall try it, potluck or no. now, a challenge: how about potluck dishes that are easy to transport by bus/streetcar/subway/bicycle? something you can stow in a knapsack or carrier bag? btw, congrats on the award.


I have been reading your blog for a while but never posted a comment. This is the perfect occasion to start : congratulations for the article in Food & Wine, the award and the book. It is well deserved. I wish you a lot of success for the future.


Caramelized onions, butternut squash, and soft cheese (especially a nice chevre) make one of my favorite combinations--Veggie Planet in Cambridge, MA does it very well in their "Dinner for Henry"--but for some reason I never thought to try making it myself with puff pastry. Amazing! Next time I cook for some friends, I'll try this out. I like the idea of spicing it up with red peppercorns too.


Great-looking recipe! I'll have to give it a try. I'm going to use your suggestion (from December) about designating one night a week for soups - I'm going to do soup or stew on Thursday nights. I'll do a roundup if other bloggers want to join me. I linked back to you in my post.


I made it last night and it was delicious. Even my picky daughter liked it! The lemon zest is an inspired addition. Thanks


Many congratulations to you, Heidi!! And kudos to Food & Wine, too, for so wholly recognizing and celebrating the symbiosis between great food magazines and great food bloggers. May it ever be thus!


WARNING to fellow vegetarians: Sometimes frozen puff pastry contains LARD (rendered Hog fat) instead of vegetable shortening (like the lard in the new Pillsbury puff pastry: shame on you Pillsbury!). Always read the label before you buy.

A Different Heidi

Thank heavens for puff pastry. Sweet, savory, it can do almost anything except diaper the baby (a place we just don't want to go!). And you put it to especially good use with this lovely tart. Add this recipe to my ever-lengthening list of "must-try" delights.

almost vegetarian

I have been a lurker for a while and have really enjoyed your recipes. When I saw the article in Food & Wine, it was almost like seeing someone I know in the magazine! Congratulations! (in my issue, the power bars did come with recipe.)


Oooo yes, I've heard a lot about that Bill Granger tomato-ricotta tart (and have a recipe for it stashed somewhere), but I love your variation on it.


The Food & Wine recipe for the power bars is missing the ingredient list! Love all the recipes. Thanks.


the title immediately got my attention with 3 of my favorite things: butternut squash, simple & tarte. thanks for the recipe inspiration and good luck with all the cookbook stuff!


I just wanted you to know that your site is being scraped ... they're taking your entire posts: (You can delete this after you check it out.)


Looks fab and I am sure it tastes good too. If you are a Bill Granger fan and you get to Sydney (or if you live in Sydney) his ricotta hotcakes, served with maple, banana and honeycomb butter are to die for.


My local apple farmer gave me two butternut squash to bring home today. They are hurt, ever so slightly, and he knew he wouldn't be able to sell them. I bought some pears, too, and there's always puff pastry in my freezer. Tomorrow I'll pick up a bit of goat cheese....this tart sounds wonderful!


Looks great! It's always nice to see a new way to use butternut squash. Risotto and soup are nice, but sometimes I want something that showcases the texture of the squash a bit more.


butternut squash and goat cheese . . .YUM! i'm looking forward to your cookbook. i also am trying to eat more natural. thanks!


Damn girl, you rule. You just TOTALLY TOTALLY rule.


Heidi - super congrats to you! I didn't know about Mighty Foods. How wonderful!

catherine Ross

mmm, souns tasty. I love butternut squash. I made a very tasty risotto w some recently that I posted about, will have to give this a try.


What eye candy! This looks delicious. I love the idea of combining these ingredients. Mmm, I can almost taste it now - crispy, flakey, buttery crust with cream ricotta and the sweet flavor from the squash with a zing of pepper... I can't wait to try this one


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