Butternut Squash and Goats' Cheese Tart

with pine nuts and thyme

This butternut squash tart makes for an easy vegetarian main course. If you want to spice it up a little, serve with a drizzle of chilli oil instead of the balsamic, for some heat.

I use our Shipton Mill soft cake and pastry white flour for the shortcrust, to get a deliciously crumbly pastry texture when you bite into the case.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • FOR THE PASTRY
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft white pastry flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ - 3 tbsp cold water
  • 1 small egg, beaten - to glaze
  • FOR THE FILLING
  • 1 butternut squash (580g baked weight, peeled and de-seeded)
  • olive oil, for drizzling and roasting
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and black pepper, to season
  • 120g soft, rindless goats' cheese
  • 2-3 tsp clear honey
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 70g fresh rocket, for garnish and side salad
  • balsamic dressing, to serve

METHOD

PASTRY

Start by making your pastry, which you can do either by hand or using a food processor. First cut your butter into small cubes of roughly 1cm using two knives to avoid touching it with your hands, and place it in a large mixing bowl.

Sift your flour and salt from a height into the bowl, to get the air into the ingredients. Gently rub the butter into the flours using your fingertips. A light touch here is important; lift up the flour as you do this and let it fall back into the bowl to create a lighter texture for the mix. You should end up with a breadcrumb-type consistency – don’t overwork it.

Add 2 tablespoons of cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the mixture. Use a blunt kitchen knife or palette knife to incorporate it as quickly as possible and bring the dough together. If you need more water add it gradually and sparingly – you only need enough to bind the dough. If your ingredients look dry then add some more, but stop before it becomes wet and tacky; you want to end up with a soft dough.

Shape your dough into a disc and wrap it in cling film. Rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

FILLING

While the dough is resting in the fridge, assemble your filling. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, along with any stringy bits. Place it on the baking tray with the cut side facing up, and drizzle with olive oil. Place a clove of garlic on each half, and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until softened. Remove from the oven. When it is cool enough to handle, peel the squash and the garlic. Slice the squash widthways into pieces the size you want for your tart. Finely chop or crush the garlic.

In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the squash with the garlic, crème fraîche and thyme, plus an extra drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set to one side to finish cooling.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, and transfer it onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Trim the edges to neaten them up, leaving you with a rectangle of roughly 25 x 30cm. Carefully arrange your filling on top of the pastry, leaving 5cm all round to form a border. Dot the goats’ cheese evenly throughout, and sprinkle the pine nuts and honey on top.

Fold the borders up to encase the filling, creating an open top pie with a crust. Brush the borders with beaten egg to glaze.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh rocket and drizzle with balsamic dressing. Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm with some extra rocket on the side.