Butternut squash tartlets

This tartlet recipe is reasonably quick to make and it is very versatile. It goes very well with various types of potato (roast, wedge, or dare I say chips). Alternatively, just have it with a simple salad. It is particularly delicious with a dollop of sour cream.

Photographing the step by step process of preparing this recipe was fun. I love the orange colour of the butternut squash, together with the red and green of the onion and the herb. I am truly in my element when thinking about recipes and designing props and compositions for photographing food. When carrying out a shoot like this, I have to be very organised and plan everything ahead. Getting a lens in the food or the food on a lens is not an option. I would love to hear your views regarding the photos and the recipe. More of my food photos here.



LETS GET COOKING

INGREDIENTS

This recipe serves 4
1 500g pk ready made shortcrust pastry
1 butternut squash, about 600g-700g in weight
1/4 tsp sea salt (adjust to your own taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 medium red onion
40g Pumpkin seeds
80g Grana Padano cheese, grated
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

METHOD IN STAGES

PUMPKIN SEEDS

In a shallow pan, roast the pumpkin seeds for 2-3 min. The seeds are ready when you hear them pop and the oil is released on the surface of the seeds. I love the nutty smell of roasted pumpkin seeds. Go on… pinch a few to munch on, but don’t be greedy - you will need them for the tartlet !!!! Set this aside.

THE ONION

Slice the onion. Heat 1 tbs of the extra virgin olive oil in a shallow pan and add the onion. Stir until the onion slices are soft. Do not burn or overcook, they will cook further in the oven later on. Set this aside.

HERB & SPICES

Wash the rosemary and chop. I chop my herbs quite roughly, but if you would like to chop rosemary like a pro here is a video.

Measure 1/4 tsp sea salt or cooking salt (whichever you prefer) and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.

Also, at this stage grate 80g Grana Padano cheese.

PREPARING BUTTERNUT SQUASH & THE FILLING

Peel, remove the seeds and slice the butternut squash. Cut the squash into cubes of about 1.5cm square. It is difficult to be precise, but cut the pieces not too small (they will overcook), or too big (they may not cook through).

In a shallow pan, fry the butternut squash cubes in the remaining olive oil for about 5-8 min. After 5 min prick with a small knife to test. The knife should meet with a little resistance. Do not overcook or indeed under cook. They will cook further in the oven. Remove from the heat.

Now, add the fried onion slices, chopped rosemary, salt and the ground pepper. Add 30g of the pumpkin seeds and 40g of the Grana Padano cheese to the butternut squash mixture. Mix well to have a good distribution of all the ingredients for filling the flan tins.

PREPARING THE PASTRY

Preheat the oven to 180C/356F/Gas 4. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat.

Lightly oil four 12cm/4 3/4in diameter and 3cm/1 1/4in deep, loose-based fluted flan tins.

Put the pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out reasonably thin.

Use an 18cm plate as a template to cut two circles from the rolled out pastry. Put these aside. Gather the remaining pastry and make into a ball. Repeat the process to cut out another two pastry circles. Line the 4 flan tins with the rolled out pastry. Press the pastry firmly into the corners of the circles and the flutes.

To cut the excess pastry, run a knife along the top edge of the tins. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.

Line the pastry with grease proof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans. Place the tins on the backing tray that you have already warmed up in the oven. Bake for 10 min. Take the pastry out of the oven and remove the grease proof paper and the beans. Return to the oven and cook for another 5 min, until the top edges of the pastry is very slightly golden. Remove from the oven. These are ready to be filled.

Divide the butternut squash mixture between the four pastry tins. Cook in a preheated oven (180C/356F/Gas 4) for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the pumpkin seed over each tartlet, then sprinkle each tartlet with the remaining cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

They are done.


RECIPE WITHOUT PHOTOS


INGREDIENTS

This recipe serves 4
1 500g pk ready made shortcrust pastry
1 butternut squash, about 600g-700g in weight
1/4 tsp seasalt (adjust to your own taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 medium red onion
40g Pumpkin seeds
80g Grana Padano cheese, grated
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

THE FILLING

  1. In a shallow pan, roast the pumpkin seeds for 2-3 min. The seeds are ready when you hear them pop and the oil is released on the surface of the seeds. Set this aside.
  2. Slice the onion. Heat 1 tbs of the extra virgin olive oil in a shallow pan and add the onion. Stir until the onion slices are soft. Set this aside.
  3. Wash the rosemary and chop to small pieces.

  4. Peel, remove the seeds and slice the butternut squash. Cut into cubes of about 1.5cm square.

  5. In a shallow pan, fry the butternut squash cubes in the remaining olive oil for about 5-8 min. After 5 min prick with a small knife to test. The knife should meet with a little resistance. Remove from heat.

  6. Add the fried onion slices, chopped rosemary, salt and the ground pepper to the butternut squash. Add 30g of the pumpkin seeds and 40g of the Grana Padano cheese to the mixture. Mix well to have a good distribution of all the ingredients for filling the flan tins.

THE PASTRY

Preheat the oven to 180C/356F/Gas 4. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat. Lightly oil four 12cm/4 3/4in diameter and 3cm/1 1/4in deep, loose-based fluted flan tins. Put the pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out reasonably thin.

Use an 18cm plate as a template to cut two circles from the rolled out pastry. Put these aside. Gather the remaining pastry and make into a ball. Repeat the process to cut out another two pastry circles. Line the 4 flan tins with the rolled out pastry. Press the pastry firmly into the corners of the circles and the flutes. To cut the excess pastry, run a knife along the top edge of the tins. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.

Line the pastry with grease proof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans. Place the tins on the backing tray that you have already warmed up in the oven. Bake for 10 min. Take the pastry out of the oven and remove the grease proof paper and the backing beans. Return to the oven and cook for another 5 min, until the top edges of the pastry is very slightly golden. Remove from the oven. These are ready to be filled.

THE TARTLETS

Divide the butternut squash mixture between the four pastry tins. Cook in a preheated oven (180C/356F/Gas 4) for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the pumpkin seed over each tartlet, then sprinkle each tartlet with the remaining cheese. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

They are done.

ENJOY....


TIPS:

  • Like many of you, I'm a busy person and do shortcuts whenever appropriate. Therefore, for this recipe I’ve used ready made shortcrust pastry. If you wish to make your own, here is a BBC recipe.
  • Great video for chopping rosemary like a pro.

  • I’ve used Grana Padano cheese for this recipe. If like me, you are curious to know the difference between Parmigiano and Grana Padano, here is a great article in NY Daily News.


FYI

Nutrition value of pumpkin seeds: I love pumpkin seeds and eat a lot of them in homemade bread, salads and various dishes I create. Here is some nutrition info you might be interested in.

For nutrition value of butternut squash: Check this out.

Waste not, want not: Check here for making use of butternut squash seeds.


USEFUL LINKS

Rapeseed oil - great produce from Northern Ireland from Broightergold

St George's Market NI would be a great place for great ingredients