Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recreating a Tart

There is a cafe near my home that serves delicious, though overpriced, breakfasts and lunches. Because of the convenience, I find myself there about once a week. Smallish sandwiches are a hefty $8 which is more than I like to spend, but a slice of quiche or savory tart runs about $3.50 and provides me a perfect light meal. 

Their menu changes seasonally so last week I was pleased to see a tart of Acorn Squash, Walnut Pesto and Sage. The flavors are rich and satisfying. A vegetarian's dream (no, I'm not a vegetarian, but if I were, it would be in my dreams.) It was delicious. 

When I was assigned appetizers to bring to this year's Thanksgiving dinner I immediately thought about recreating the tart. There are essentially four parts: crust, walnut pesto, acorn squash and sage - and each requires it's own preparation, but putting it all together would be easy. I decided to do a test-run today (day before TG) and to make enough of everything to easily assemble another one tomorrow. 

Here you go:
Crust: I don't bake, so I decided to use puff pastry dough. Get it in the freezer section of the store. Use one shet let it thaw per package directions. If you are an expert with tart dough, then, I say - go from scratch
Roasted Acorn Squash: Cut one acorn squash in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Place cut side UP in a shallow pan with an inch of water in the bottom. Place in 350 degree oven. Bake until tender but firm enough to slice. About an hour. After cooling, remove the skin and cut into half-moons.
Walnut Pesto: One cup EACH of walnut bits, parmesan cheese, olive oil and a quarter cup cream. Blend everything together. Consistency should be similar to natural peanut butter. Add more walnuts to make it thicker or more cream to make it thinner.
Sage Butter: Finely chop six fresh sage leaves. Put them in a pan with half a stick of butter and let them melt together. As the butter browns it will begin to smell slightly nutty. Be careful the butter doesn't burn. 
Assemble and Bake the Tart: line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dust with a small amount of flour. Lay the thawed PUFF PASTRY sheet on it. Spoon the WALNUT PESTO over the sheet and distribute all over in a thin layer. Place the ACORN SQUASH half-moon slices in an attractive pattern over the pesto. With a pastry brush, dab a generous amount of SAGE BUTTER over the top of the squash. Be sure that sage bits get brushed on as well. Fold the edges of the tart over and brush the top with the sage butter. Put into a 400 degree oven and bake for about 20 minutes - until the crust rises and the edges of it and the squash become golden. Serve at room temperature (with a glass of pinot).
Here is a (bad) picture of the test tart. You can see that I wasn't able to make nice half moons out of the squash (which kept breaking apart) so it's not as pretty as I envisioned, but it tasted surprisingly like the cafe's version.

Let me know if you make it.