This butternut squash and Parmesan tart makes a perfect lunch or brunch, or dare we say..even a simple dinner on a weeknight. The spelt crust adds a lovely nuttiness that adds another layer to the creamy squash, cheese, and egg filling.
This tart has long been an essential—and award-winning—item on the menu at Popina Bakery in London’s Notting Hill. Named for the Latin word for “eatery,” the bakery takes a rather imaginative approach to simple, seasonal fare, as evidenced by this melding of ingredients. Trust us, it makes an accolade-inducing appetizer or late-morning entrée.–Isidora Popovic
LC As We Like It Note
Rather than leave the squash and onion raw before incorporating them into the tart, we prefer to sauté or roast them until sweet and softened. But that’s just us. If you don’t have a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, simply make the recipe in a 9-inch pie tin—just remove the slices with extra care when serving. And although you can substitute whichever tart crust you’ve committed to memory, we really actually prefer the slightly nutty flavor imparted by the spelt in this recipe.
Butternut Squash and Parmesan Tart
- 9-inch (23-cm) fluted tart pan with a removable bottom
For the spelt dough
- 1 2/3 cups spelt flour plus more for the work surface
- 1 teaspoon quick-acting dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup warm water
For the tart
- Unsalted butter for greasing the tart pan
- Spelt Dough
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 14 ounces butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
Make the spelt dough
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Mix the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil, egg, and water. Draw everything together with your hands until a soft dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it’s sticky, add a little flour and knead again.
Make the tart
- Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until 1/8 inch thick. Line the tart pan, tucking the dough into the edge of the pan. Don’t trim the edges just yet.
- Place the onion and butternut squash in a mixing bowl and toss gently.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cream, egg, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and whisk well.
- Pour half the cream mixture into the tart crust. Scatter the onion and butternut squash over the cream mixture. Pour the remaining cream mixture over the top. Trim the excess pizza dough neatly around the edges.
- Bake the tart 30 to 35 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Serve warm or cold.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This soft and chewy crust inspires me to use spelt more often. For added flavour, I roasted the butternut squash and onion before adding them to the filling. The filling had a firm yet creamy texture, and the red onion added a hint of sweetness. As a cheese lover, however, I felt that the 3 tablespoons of Parmesan weren’t enough, so next time, I’ll add some to the crust as well. Overall, we enjoyed this refreshingly different recipe that utilizes butternut squash in a unique way.
This is a wonderful recipe. Because I was unable to find spelt flour in my area, I made a basic pastry crust instead, which resulted in a tart with a nice balance of sweet and savory. My only tip is to allow enough time to prep the squash—producing uniform matchsticks took me awhile because the squash is rather hard to cut. The flavors of the squash, red onion, and Parmesan cheese melded together nicely. After having one slice, I had to go back for another.
I really liked the flavor combination of this tart. I chose to roast the onion and squash prior to filling the tart, which really enhanced the flavors of the vegetables. I was concerned that the spelt flour would overpower the squash and onion, but it didn’t at all. In fact, I really enjoyed the flavor and texture of the crust. The filling could have used more egg or heavy cream, however. There were plenty of squash and onions, but the egg mixture was thin, so the next time I make this I’ll increase the egg and heavy cream mixture.
This was crazy good. I softened the squash and onions (in a little bit of butter) before adding them to the egg and cream mixture, and that extra step contributed quite a bit to the flavor. I used the measurements exactly as directed, and the filling was just the right amount to fill the tart shell. Baking time and temperature were accurate (depending upon the crust recipe you use, you may need to bake the crust blind before filling and baking the tart). The final product had this rich, creamy sweetness, with a savory element provided by the cheese and onion. We couldn’t get enough of this, and I plan to make it again.
Originally published March 30, 2010
I stumbled upon this recipe when trying to use up some butternut squash nearly two years ago now. It’s my mum’s favorite, so I’ve played with it as a base since then. I have used cubed butternut (that’s what I had) and swapped either leeks or regular onion for the red, depending. Sometimes I use a white tasty (cheddar-ish) inside and sprinkle with Parmesan if I’m low on Parmesan. Today I used King Arthur Flour’s no-roll oil crust, added sage and thyme to the pumpkin/onion (precooked) with a bit of fresh rocket/arugula, and finally upped the cream and eggs. Deemed delicious yet again. Thank you!
Ama, excellent! I love your creativity.
It’s a wonderful recipe, I’ve prepared it today for dinner and my success is a fact! Thank you 🙂 I made a little variation with ingredients, my tart contain cauliflower, green pepper and onion, perfect like your butternut squash tart!
Love that you love the recipe, Cristina. And love that you made it your own…
Can someone comment on the crust, not the taste but the texture specifically? I was surprised to see a yeast dough as the base, and even more surprised that the dough is not left to rise and that the crust is not baked blind. Previous comments are favorable, so clearly it “works”….any comments re: un-risen, unbaked yeast dough as tart base?
Hello, Polly. I asked Cindi Kruth, one of our veteran recipe testers and baking instructor extraordinaire, to comment on your query and she shared some thoughts with me. First, we’d like to point out that the cookbook author actually uses this dough as a pizza crust as well as a base for tarts—take note, pizza lovers!
Cindi believes the approach to this crust is made possible by the fact that it calls for spelt, a cereal grain that is not gluten-free yet doesn’t form much gluten. And the gluten it does contain doesn’t have the same properties as wheat flour gluten. She imagines the low baking temperature is a function of the spelt, may be the reason there’s no fermentation (rise), or, as would be the case with a regular pastry crust, no baking blind. If there isn’t much gluten development then the gases produced by the yeast won’t be trapped enough to make it rise very much. And there won’t be that much gas anyway since there is no fermentation. Plus the dense toppings would keep it from becoming bread-like. But these are assumptions, as she hasn’t made it. Anyone else who has made the crust care to comment on the texture?
Please note, a substitution of regular wheat flour here would not work as well since that might actually become a thicker, chewier crust which doesn’t seem like a good match.
Has your veteran recipe tester tried it yet? I have the same queries about not leaving the dough to rise. By the way the hazlenut, chocolate and spelt biscuits in the Popina book are wonderful.
We have tested this, Elaine. In fact, several of our 100+ recipe testers have made this tart, to great effect. Everything we’ve tried from this book has been, as you say, wonderful…