Roasted acorn squash pairs with a grain free crust and creamy ricotta cheese for a hearty and delicious fall tart. This elegant gluten free, grain free, and vegetarian pastry is perfect for Thanksgiving – or the next time your dinner calls for a little flair!
DUH DUH DUHHHHHH. The time has come to prepare for the Foodie Super Bowl, which is known in layman’s terms as Thanksgiving. To some the Foodie Super Bowl is just the Super Bowl, so … let’s call this the Fall Foodie Superbowl.
We’ll just call it Thanksgiving.
It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving – if you haven’t already.
Turkey Duty terrifies me (they’re huge! What if you drop it? What am I supposed to stuff up its butt, exactly!?) so I stick to sides and – of course – desserts.
I’d like to think I do a damn good job at that, and I’ll leave the wrangling of large decapitated land fowl (I’m a food writer, can’t you tell?) to the experts.
I have a lot to live up to this year.
Three years ago, I made this killer pecan tart. Two years ago, I made 15-minute cranberry sauce that no one knew was sugar free, a grain free stuffing/dressing, and the All Time Best Salad For Holidays, Dinner Parties, and Leftovers. It’s pretty much the perfect salad.
Last year, I got a pass because I was baking a different kind of turkey, if you know what I mean.
So this year, I’m back to going all in. I’m either hosting or not hosting (TBD! Live on the edge!) but either way, it is going to be a fairly small gathering compared to years past, though you can be sure we’ll have enough food for 7,000 people.
Roasted Acorn Squash Tart: a perfect vegetarian option
The slightly challenging part about Thanksgiving being such a meat-centric holiday is that my dad is a (nearly) lifelong vegetarian. (Did you know I used to be, too?) It’s not really that big of a deal; what’s one more dish when there are already a billion planned?
But, it does help both the vegetarian, and everyone else at the table to make something really delicious that compliments the meal, completes your plate, and – oh yeah – just happens to be vegetarian, too.
That’s the story of this tart.
Please don’t let the number of steps or ingredients scare you off. There may be a few more minutes of effort required of this tart than most of my recipes call for, but each step is, in and of itself, totally user friendly. If you can pour some stuff in a food processor and turn it on, or stir a bunch of other stuff in a bowl, you can make this tart.
It starts with a savory, herb-y grain free pie crust, which is filled with rich ricotta cheese and topped with elegantly-sliced roasted acorn squash. The beauty of this tart is that it really is as simple as it sounds:
- A quick crust dough comes together in the food processor. Press it into a pan.
- The ricotta filling mixture is made using nothing more than a bowl and a spoon. Well, and a measuring cup or two.
- The roasted acorn squash comes to the party already cooked. You can steam it if you prefer. Either way, just remove the ends, put it skin side up, and cook until soft.
Yep, you can even leave the skin on.
I got a few questions about the skin situation when I posted this tart on Instagram. The answer is that I kept the skin on for both ease and aesthetics. Acorn squash skin is very thin and, when roasted or steamed well, the texture is tender and – if you ask me – a nice contrast to the very soft and slightly mushy meat of the squash.
Since the acorn squash is cooked before being added to the tart, and then again as the tart is baking, it shouldn’t be more than a nice textural contrast. However, if you prefer skin off, just cut around the sides of the squash to remove the skin and the grooves that make it nearly impossible to peel.
So that’s it: just three layers that are, all things considered (and especially by Thanksgiving Fancy Food standards) pretty easy! The best part is that you can prep the three components (crust, filling, squash) in advance and just assemble and bake before the big meal.
Your turn: what are some of your family’s Thanksgiving menu traditions or challenges? What are you making this year that is new to your Thanksgiving table?
Roasted Acorn Squash Tart
- 1 large acorn squash
Ingredients for the crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone nonstick pad.
- Wash the acorn squash well. Cut off the ends, then slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place face down on the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast for about 30-40 minutes (the exact time will depend on the size of your squash) until the meat and the skin are both very soft.
- Remove the squash from the oven and set aside to cool. Keep the oven preheated to 350°.
- Lightly grease a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable base.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "s" blade, pulse the almond, coconut and tapioca flours, the thyme, and the salt.
- Add the oil (or butter), water, and egg white and process until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Scrape down the sides to incorporate everything into one large ball, the transfer the dough to the prepared tart pan. Use your fingertips to gently work the dough into an even layer across the base of the pan and up the sides.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer across the bottom of the prepared tart shell (crust).
- Thinly slice the cooked and cooled squash, widthwise across the squash.
- Arrange the squash slices in a ring around the edge of the filling, slightly overlapping the crust. Continue to arrange the squash slices in concentric rings, moving closer to the center. Break up a squash slice into small pieces for the center-most ring.
- Dust the tart with additional dried thyme before baking.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes until most of the liquid in the ricotta has evaporated.
- Allow to cool before slicing and serving.
- Do not use skim ricotta for this recipe. It contains too much moisture and will result in a soggy filling.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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