Tart with pumpkinseed-sage custard and roasted butternut coins


There’s been such a nice frisson lately between winter and spring. The air is filled with the fragrance of flowers, but the evenings are cool enough for people to use their fireplaces, and the combination of smells is at once hopeful and nostalgic. This tart is like that a little, to me. Although slightly autumnal, there’s something about the combination of flavors and the very tart-shaped shape of it, that’s as suitable to early spring as to early fall.

It’s a polka dot tart! A polka tart! I think butternut squash and sage make such a perfect combination. The one sweet and mild, and the other strong and sort of earthy. (How would you describe sage? It’s indescribable!) When I made my pumpkinseed sage sauce, I thought it would be perfect with coins of roasted squash. And then I thought, why not take it one step further, and combine it all in one neat package? After all, I’d been thinking of this as a sort of pesto, and I love to use basil pesto in a tart. It turned out very delicious all together. The flaky crust added just enough crunch to the tender tart. A perfect spring meal with a big green salad.

Here’s Noble Sissle with Polka Dot Rag. Have a dance around the kitchen while you wait for your tart to bake!

1 batch paté brisée, with lots of black pepper added to the flour.

1 cup pumpkinseed-sage sauce
5 or 6 sage leaves, minced (optional)
2 eggs
1-2 cups loosely packed grated sharp cheddar
1 small butternut squash

Preheat the oven to 450. Peel the squash, and cut it into circles about 1/8th inch wide. You want to have a thinnish squash, or the circles will be too big. I think mine was about 1 1/2 inches thick. If you can only find a bigger squash, you can cut half-moons instead of circles, and that will be pretty, too. You’ll have C-shapes from the base of the squash anyway, right?

Coat with olive oil, and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast for about half an hour, till they start to get brown and crispy. You might need to rearrange them when you turn them over (every 10 minutes or so). In my oven the outside objects on the tray get brown first, so I’ll move them to the middle, to make sure everything cooks evenly. When they’re quite crispy, remove to a plate, and let them sit while you prepare everything else.

Preheat the oven to 400 (Or turn the oven down, if you’ve just roasted your squash)

Butter and flour your tart pan. Roll out the dough, and spread it onto the tart pan. I have the edges of the dough go over the edge of the pan a tiny bit, so it won’t collapse when it cooks. If it does, you can squish it back up with your fingers – but don’t burn yourself!!

Prebake the crust for about 10 minutes, till it just starts to set and loses that shiny look.

Meanwhile…in a large bowl, combine the pumpkinseed sauce, the eggs, and the cheese. I added some minced sage leaves (5 or 6) because I really like that sagey flavor, but you can decide how sage-ish you like it.

Spread evenly in the pre-baked tart shell.

Arrange the squash slices on top.

Bake for about half an hour, till the pumpkinseed part is puffed and starting to brown, and the edges of the crust are just starting to brown.


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