Last week while walking through the produce section of the grocery store, I spotted a big basket of locally grown butternut squash. Butternut squash is, hands down, my favorite fall vegetable – I love it! I immediately started dreaming up different uses for the squash – roasted as a side dish, pureed for lasagna, or sautéed for pasta. I love all of those things, but I wanted to do something a little more unique. After walking through the store a little longer it came to me – a butternut squash crostata! A crostata is a rustic Italian tart and is very simple to make, but very impressive.
I really wanted the butternut squash to be the star ingredient in the crostata, so I kept the rest of the ingredients simple. A walnut-pie dough, onions, sage, and Gruyere cheese were perfect enhancements to the squash. As an accompaniment, I prepared an arugula-apple salad with apple cider vinaigrette, which adds a great freshness to the crostata.
If you’ve never made your own pie dough before, please give it a try, as it’s really very simple once you get the feel for it. The 3 most important things to remember when making pie dough are: very cold butter, ice water, and making sure not to over-knead.
About 15 minutes before I’m ready to prepare the dough, I cube my butter and place it in the freezer. Cold butter=flaky crust, and we all want a flaky piecrust! You’ll notice in the recipe that there is no measurement for the ice water. This is because the amount of water you will need all depends on the moisture in the air – if it’s dry you will need more, if it’s a humid day you’ll need less. I just get a glass of ice water and add it a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to clump together. On a floured surface, bring the clumps of dough together and knead gently into a smooth ball – over-kneading will result in a tough crust. Seems complicated, but I promise you it’s not!
This dish is perfect for lunch or a light dinner – it’s the flavors of fall on a plate! I think it would also be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table, especially if you’re looking for something unique to add to your table this year. I hope you will give the crostata a try and enjoy it as much as I did!
Butternut Squash Crostata with Arugula-Apple Salad
Sweet butternut squash is surrounded by a soft and buttery walnut crust. Served alongside the apple-arugula salad makes this a perfect fall meal!
For the Crust:
¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Walnuts
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
1 Stick Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed
For the filling:
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
3 Cups Butternut Squash, sliced 1/8 inch thick, from 1 small squash
1 Teaspoon Fresh Sage, thinly sliced
½ Cup Freshly Grated Gruyere Cheese
Arugula-Apple Salad, recipe follows
Combine the flour, walnuts, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until walnuts are finely chopped. Add in the cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly pour in ice water a tablespoon at a time just until the dough starts to form. Remove from food processor and knead gently on a floured surface to form into a smooth ball. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 375º. While oven preheats make the filling. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat; add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until onions are soft and lightly caramelized; set aside to cool. Combine butternut squash, sage, and cooled onions; drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper; set aside. Take your chilled dough from the fridge and roll it out in to large circle, about ¼ in thick. Leaving a two-inch border around the edges, layer the butternut squash mixture with the Gruyere cheese in the center of the dough. Fold the outer edges on top of the filling; you should be able to see the center of the filling. Bake crostata for 45 minutes or until the dough is nicely browned and a knife is easily inserted into the butternut squash. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing; serve with the arugula-apple salad.
¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice, about the juice of half a lemon
1 Tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cups Arugula, washed and dried
1 Apple (I like Jonagold)
Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper; stir to dissolve the honey. Add in the olive oil, place the lid on the jar and shake well to combine. In a salad bowl combine the arugula and apple, drizzle with a small amount of the dressing and toss to combine. Serve alongside the butternut squash crostata.
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