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Ricotta Tart with Maple Glazed Winter Squash

March 21, 2011

This is a sentimental dish for me. I made it for the first time last fall when I was volunteering on an all-natural dairy farm in New York’s idyllic Hudson Valley. The crust was made with local butter and lard from pigs raised on the farm – happy pigs. I used goat’s milk ricotta that we’d made that morning right after the goats had been milked. The eggs were still warm when I cracked them over the ricotta, having just been stolen from a brooding hen. I used a carnival squash that we’d been given in trade for a freshly harvested chicken. The tart was finished with a generous sprinkle of our fresh chèvre.

The dinners I made during my stay on the farm were some of the best that I can remember, redefining for this city girl just exactly what it means to ‘eat local’. I still dream of those warm eggs with their bright orange centers.

Since returning to Chicago, I’ve made this tart a dozen times using a variety of squashes and finishing cheeses. And with each satisfying bite I’m transported to that magical place.

Ricotta Tart with Maple Glazed Winter Squash

Inspired by Susan Spungen’s recipe for Savory Ricotta-Squash Tart in Food and Wine Magazine.
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

    Hazelnut Crust:
    1/2 cup hazelnuts
    3/4 cups whole wheat pastry
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
    2 tablespoons cold water
    Filling:
    1 medium butternut (the neck only) or acorn squash
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons maple syrup
    1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
    12 ounces fresh ricotta
    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons whipping cream
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    salt
    2 ounces chèvre, crumbled
    2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Preparation

    Hazelnut Crust: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer until skins are dark brown, about 10 minutes. Finely chop the nuts once they have completely cooled.
  3. Place the pastry flour, chopped hazelnuts, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse to combine.
  4. Sprinkle the butter over the flour mixture. Pulse again until coarse crumbs form.
  5. Add the water and blend dough until it begins to come together but is still crumbly.
  6. Press dough in bottom and up the sides of a 14×5-inch tart pan (or a 9” round) with a removable bottom. Chill crust 30 minutes.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
  8. Bake crust in middle of oven until golden, about 25 minutes, and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
    Filling: 

  1. Peel the butternut squash neck and cut into ½-inch slices. (If using acorn squash, leave the skins on.) Arrange the slices on a baking sheet. Combine one tablespoon each of olive oil and maple syrup and brush on the squash slices. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir to coat with the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Allow the shallots to cook slowly, stirring occasionally until golden. Add the remaining maple syrup and remove from heat.
  3. Combine the ricotta, eggs, cream, nutmeg, and a ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Spread the ricotta filling in the cooled pastry shell. Sprinkle the caramelized shallots on top. Arrange the squash slices over the shallots. If using butternut squash, scoop out a 1-inch diameter circle in the center of each slice to create a nook for the remaining ingredients to nestle in. Sprinkle the crumbled chèvre and dried cranberries over the top of the tart.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the ricotta filling is puffed and firm to the touch. Enjoy!


Homemade tarts can be enjoyed all year round using what’s in season.
Give these a try in the summer: 

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2011 10:01 am

    Hazelnuts in the pastry, oh that’s gonna be good. Great photos too.

  2. March 25, 2011 10:30 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious and beautiful too!!

  3. March 26, 2011 8:42 am

    Loving the pictures! By the way..ricotta and squash tart, what a brilliant idea!:)

  4. March 28, 2011 1:50 am

    That is so mouthwatering, excellent recipe

  5. March 28, 2011 6:20 am

    That looks delicious! A tart made with so many of my favorites…

  6. March 30, 2011 5:10 am

    Wow, I love your recipe and your story. :)

    • April 29, 2011 5:26 am

      I’m not easily impressed. . . but that’s imrpssenig me! :)

Trackbacks

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