Too often, the squash is cut into chunks, then either seasoned and roasted or steamed and mashed. And while both approaches can be delicious, they get tedious year after year. They also don't do the squash justice. Face it, a bowl of mashed squash will always be a runner up to mashed potatoes. And of the many roasted dishes that land on the table, squash isn't the one most people will reach for.
So I decided to reinvent the Thanksgiving squash dish. I wanted something with a bit of backbone. Something that stood out and didn't resemble every other — or any other — dish on the table.
What I came up with is a simple, savory squash tart. Not only is it easy to make, it even can be prepared ahead of time (saving valuable oven space on the big day), then briefly reheated just before serving.
SAVORY BUTTERNUT SQUASH TART
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
9-inch prepared (rolled) pie crust
1 3/4 pounds peeled and cubed (about 1/2-inch cubes) butternut squash
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Unroll the pie crust and set it over a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Gently press the crust into the pan and up the sides. Using your fingers, crimp and remove any excess dough. Refrigerate the crust.
Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water, then fit it with a steamer basket. Set the squash in the steamer basket, then bring the water to a boil. Cover and steam the squash until very tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the squash to a blender or food processor. Process or blend until mostly smooth. Add the eggs, cheese, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper, then process again until very smooth.
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and set it on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour the squash mixture into the crust, then bake for 25 minutes, or until set at the centre. Cool slightly before cutting into slices.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 90 calories from fat (41 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 6 g protein; 430 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org