Rustic Butternut Squash + Apple Tart with Brown Butter + Sage

Darling November / The month of butternut squash / Making dreams come true.

Yes, I did write a haiku for an autumnal vegetable. The month of November always toys with my emotions, with the weather vacillating between warm and cool, the foliage showing off its colors only to fall, leaving the trees bare, and the days growing shorter. I find myself holding tightly to the sunny afternoons, trying to soak up as much vitamin D as possible before winter comes, and I crave warm, carb-heavy meals that highlight the bounty of the fall produce.

This month’s recipe features a couple of the stars of the November harvest along with my absolute favorite flavor, brown butter; it’s easy, fun to make and assemble, and works either as an appetizer or as main course. Pair it with a glass of chenin blanc or chardonnay, and you’ll be set. So turn on some Ella Fitzgerald, put on your coziest sweater, and savor the experience of preparing this simple and satisfying recipe. - Logan

Serves 4-8

by Logan Kimsey for Haand

For the tart crust:

  • 1.5 cups // 188g all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs // 141g salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs // 75g cold water
  • 1 egg
  1. Cut room temperature butter into 8-10 large chunks, and add to a bowl along with the flour and salt. Toss to cover the butter with the flour.
  1. Add the cold water to the bowl and mix to combine with the flour before gently kneading in the large chunks of butter. The dough will seem shaggy and not thoroughly incorporated, and this is exactly what you want. Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead a bit more until the dough is just barely sticking together. There will still be chunks of butter visible, and this goodness is what is going to yield the flakiest, most delicious tart crust you’ve ever tasted. Lightly pat your dough into a rectangle, then set it aside.
  1. Dust your counter with flour, place the rectangle of dough on top of the floured spot, and sprinkle a bit more flour on top. Use a rolling pin, wine bottle, or any other cylindrical object to roll your dough into an elongated rectangle until it is between a 1/4”-1/2” thick. Fold the long rectangle in half to mark a center point, then unfold it. Fold both ends of the rectangle in to the midpoint, then fold in half again in the same direction (like closing a book). This is called a 4-fold.
  1. Turn the dough so the folded edges of the dough are facing right (and, to stick with the book metaphor, the “spine” is facing left) and repeat this process 2 more times. After 3 sets of 4-folds, your dough should be evenly smooth in texture and holding together well. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days (alternately, you can freeze the dough for up to 4 weeks before thawing and using).
  1. When you are ready to make your tart, preheat the oven to 425oF, remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll it out on a well-floured surface, and shape into either a rectangle or a square approximately 1/8” thick. Use a knife or a pizza wheel to trim off any unruly edges, then cut a 1/2” wide border around all four edges of your dough.
  1. Crack the egg into a small bowl or cup, mix it with a splash of water, and whisk it to make an egg wash. Brush the entire piece of dough with the egg wash, then place the 1/2” pieces along the edges of the dough to create a border. Trim any overhanging bits of dough, then brush the border pieces with the egg wash.
  1. Use a fork to prick the dough all over; these little holes act as tiny vents for steam to escape while the shell bakes, yielding the light and flaky crust of your dreams.
  1. Once your oven has preheated, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, transfer your prepared tart shell onto the parchment, and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 15 minutes. The shell will have puffed up to about 1/2” thick and will be lightly golden. Set it aside until you are ready to dress it, and leave the oven on while you move on to preparing the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 small-medium butternut squash, approximately 1.5-2 pounds
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbs salted butter
  • 3 large leaves or 6-8 small leaves of fresh sage
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small granny smith apple
  • 1/4 cup raw pepitas (roasted will work, too, but see the note in step 5)
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  1. Cut the squash in half longways, then scoop out the seeds from both halves. Rub the flesh of one half with olive oil, place face down on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, approximately fifteen minutes.
  1. While the squash half is roasting, heat the butter in a sauté pan or skillet until things start getting toasty, roughly 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Toss in the sage leaves, and cook until the milk solids in the butter have sunk to the bottom of the pan and turned golden brown. Remove the pan from heat and pour the brown butter and sage mixture into a blender, food processor, or wide-mouth jar (if you plan to mash by hand or use an immersion blender).
  1. Use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the remaining half of the squash, cut it in half again lengthwise, then cut it widthwise into 1/8” thick pieces. Set the pieces aside, then cut the apple into 1/8” thick slices.
  1. When the roasting squash is tender, let it cool for a few minutes before peeling away and discarding its skin. Add the squash to the brown butter and sage mixture along with the apple cider vinegar, and blend to a smooth purée.
  1. Now it’s time for the fun part—top the partially baked tart shell with the purée, then channel your inner Picasso or Mondrian as you let the tart be your canvas. Layer the pieces of squash and apple atop the purée, add dollops of goat cheese, sprinkle the pepitas*, drizzle the honey around, and finish with flaky sea salt and pepper. (*if you are using roasted pepitas, do not add them until after the tart has finished baking)
  1. Return the tart, now fully decorated, to the middle rack of the oven, drop the heat to 400oF, and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden and the squash slices look tender. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before using a serrated knife to cut it into 4 quarters, if serving as an entrée, or 8 pieces, if offering as an appetizer.