Squash, cranberry and feta tarts

Freeform pastry makes for a delicious savoury treat!

These rustic tarts steal the show every time I serve them. The pastry is really easy to work with and as long as your roasted vegetables are cool when you assemble the tarts, they’re simple to pull together. They make a delicious brunch or lunch option (I serve them with a kale salad) or an impressive appetizer at dinner time. Use this recipe as a starting point and come up with your own savoury combinations!

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter
  • 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for brushing the pastry before baking)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 mL) ice water

Filling

  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (500 mL) cubed butternut squash (3/4 inch or 2 cm sized pieces)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) ground ginger
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fresh cranberries
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) honey
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese

Method

  • Make the pastry by putting the flour, salt and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor; cut the butter into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) sized pieces and add to the bowl. Pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about 15 seconds).
  • Beat together the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of the ice water. With the machine running, pour the egg yolk mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Turn off machine as soon as you have finished adding the water. Pinch a teaspoonful of the dough with your fingers to see if it holds together. If it seems a bit dry, add one more tablespoon (15 mL) of water and process for 5 seconds more.
  • Alternatively, to prepare the dough by hand, put the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture and toss with two forks to combine. Add beaten egg yolk combined with 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of ice water and stir quickly with a fork. Pinch dough to test, as above, and add more water if needed, stirring briefly.
  • Turn the pastry out onto the counter and use your hands to gather it into a cylinder about 4 inches long. Cut into four even-sized discs and wrap each in plastic wrap then refrigerate for one hour. If you’re in a rush, pop the wrapped pastry into the freezer for 20 minutes or so. It’s much easier to roll out when chilled. Note that the pastry can made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead, or frozen for up to a month.
  • Once the pastry has chilled, remove from refrigerator, unwrap, and sprinkle both sides of the pastry with a little bit of flour. Place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Working always from the centre of the discs, roll each one into a circle about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Lay the pastry circles out onto two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate or freeze for 5 minutes.
  • To prepare the filling, preheat oven to 400F. Place the onions, garlic and squash on a parchment-lined baking tray. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and ginger. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then stir in cranberries and cook for 10 – 15 minutes longer, until squash is tender and cranberries have softened. Set aside to cool slightly. Leave oven on if baking the tarts right away.

  • Remove the pastry circles from the refrigerator. Spoon one quarter of the cooled squash mixture into the centre of each circle, leaving a 1.5 inch (4 cm) border all the way around to fold up over the filling. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and feta, then drizzle with honey.

  • Carefully fold the empty pastry border towards the centre of the tart, pleating or pinching the dough gently as you work your way around the circle. Brush the border with the beaten egg white.
  • Note: tarts can be prepared up to this point then covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.
  • Bake at 400F for 20 to 22 minutes (a few minutes longer if going from fridge to oven), or until the pastry is lightly golden. Serve immediately.
  • Note that tarts can also be baked ahead of time and reheated in a 350F oven until warm.

Makes 4 tarts.

About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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