SERVE THIS WARM APPETIZER WHILE PUTTING THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON THE MAIN MEAL
This Butternut Squash Tart is the perfect thing to make as an appetizer for a dinner party or the upcoming Thanksgiving meal. Why is that, you ask? Because if you are like me, the best laid plans never quite come to fruition when hosting. There’s always a hitch – you’re missing an important ingredient, everything takes longer than expected, and the actual mealtime creeps later and later.
This tasty tart can be made early, because it takes a long time to cool and still tastes great even when it does. Most important of all, it’s hearty enough to keep your guests satiated while you get your act together! We’re going the easy route on this one with pre-made puff pastry. Sure, we COULD make it, but puff pastry is one of those things that is a lot more trouble than it’s worth, so cut yourself a break, will ya?
• 1 package puff-pastry
• 1 medium butternut squash
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 tsp salt
• Black pepper
• 3 large strips of bacon
• 2 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 1/4 tsp smoked salt*
• 1 tbsp milk
• 2 oz (1/8 lb) blue cheese
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1 tsp urfa biber or other chile flake
Tip: Smoked salt can be purchased at gourmet and specialty shops. I like the Yakima Applewood Smoked Salt from the Spice Station.
1. Preheat over to 400°.
2. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. (Most puff pastries come frozen and require thawing. Make sure to take it out at this point so it has time to thaw while the squash cooks.)
3. Peel the squash, then cut it in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and guts until the inside is smooth.
4. Chop the squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Try to keep the size of the pieces fairly uniform – this helps them cook evenly.
5. Pour the olive oil over the squash and toss to coat. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
6. Bake for 40 minutes, turning occasionally for even browning. Poke one of the larger pieces with a fork – if it slides all the way through easily then the squash is fully cooked. If not, give it 5 to 10 more minutes.
7. While the squash is baking, cook the bacon to the chewy stage in a skillet. It will crisp up a bit more in the oven. Blot extra grease and then chop the bacon into small pieces.
8. When the squash is done, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. (If you do not have a stand mixer, put the squash into a large bowl and smash with a fork or potato masher.)
9. Add butter, maple syrup, smoked salt, and milk and mix until smooth and creamy.
10. Unroll the puff pastry onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Spread the squash into an even layer over the puff pastry using a spatula. You might notice a few lumps in the squash. That’s okay – they’ll soften up when the tart bakes.
11. Sprinkle the bacon, blue cheese, thyme, and chile flake evenly over the tart.
12. Bake for 40 minutes.
13. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into hand-held sizes and serve.
Tip: A pizza cutter works well for cutting this Butternut Squash Tart.
Readers – What are your favorite fall appetizers?
photos: heather for we heart this
Heather is a midwesterner living in Los Angeles and enjoys concocting weird flavor combinations and exploring delicious ethnic foods. She blogs at foodforfunandpleasure and knows her way around the spice cabinet like nobody’s business.