Roasted butternut & portobello tart with a pecan crust

Butternut and portobello tart

I talked to a woman the other day who told me that her son had lost everything in the horrible foreclosure nightmare. They’d lost their home, and they sold all of their possessions. They have nothing, she said, and… you know…they’re happy! I laughed and said that we have so much stuff. Piles and piles of stuff. Every surface of our house has a big pile of stuff on it, that we “go through” from time to time, but that we can’t get rid of. We’ve said that we should have a yard sale, but a) we don’t have a front yard (we live in a city, man, we have a stoop) and b) nobody would want any of our stuff! What we have is piles of drawings – I find it hard to get rid of the boys’ drawings, and Isaac, alone, produces several books’ worth each day. All of their little notes and doodles and ingenious inventions of tape and cardboard. Every little Halloween costume they’ve ever worn. Every report card. And we have books, piles of books. Books too big for shelves. Books we can’t put away because we might need to consult them at any minute of the day. Books you just like to walk by and see, because they’re inspiring. And David and I have presents that we’ve made for each other over the years. They’re unspeakably valuable to me, but they’re crazy! And it’s just possible that nobody else would see their worth. Clay birds and felt birds and drawings of birds. Paintings and pictures and cards. Little films, beautiful boxes and books and painted film cans. On and on it goes, this jumbled portrait of our love and friendship! I’m notoriously terrible at finishing things, so I’ve given David a lifetime’s supply of nearly-done projects. I’ve almost finished embroidering some deer onto a piece of linen. Someday I may finish sewing a poor felt deer who has wire legs sticking out in an alarming fashion. The best present I’ve ever ever ever gotten, though, was for my 32nd birthday. David made me a chair. And it’s such a Claire-y chair. It’s got secret drawers and compartments. It’s green. It’s got a writing desk built on. It’s solid and graceful and elegant. It’s inspiring and hopeful and sweetly encouraging, and sweetly inscribed. I love it so much! And, at the moment, it’s covered in drawings that Isaac has done. But I love them, too.

My green chair

And I’ve taken to making presents I can finish, presents that don’t collect dust, presents that feed the family! Such a one is that butternut tart. It has a crispy pecan crust. It has meaty balsamic roasted mushrooms, it has a sweet, sage-and-nutmeg flavored custard, and it has smoky smoky smoked gouda. It’s like autumn in a tart! It’s like a savory pumpkin pie! We had this for David’s birthday dinner. It’s transient, but full of love!

Here’s Cee Lo Green’s sweet All Day Love Affair.


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, frozen
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
black pepper
1/2 cup pecans, roughly ground

Mix the flour, pecans, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the butter. Mix with a fork till you have a mixture resembling coarse crumbs. Add ice water – starting with half a cup, but you’ll probably need more. When you have a workable dough, knead for about half a minute, then wrap in foil and chill till you’re ready to use it.


1 small butternut squash
2 cloves garlic
7 or 8 sage leaves
1 t rosemary
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (+/-)
1 cup smoked gouda, grated
black pepper

2 portobello mushrooms
olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
2 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Place the squash face-down on a baking sheet. Stuff the garlic cloves into the cavity in the squash. Roast until the skin is brown and the flesh is soft and collapsing. 45 minutes, give or take, depending on the size of squash.

Peel the mushrooms. Cut them in 1/4 to 1/3 inch slices, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, moving and flipping each mushroom till both sides are lightly coated. Roast for about twenty minutes, turning once or twice, till it’s a nice chestnut brown on each side. Set aside.

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into a food processor. You should have 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Add the garlic, sage, rosemary, milk, salt, and process till nice and smooth. stir in the cheese. Season well with black pepper.

Roll the dough into the shape and size of your tart pan, and about 1/4 inch thick. Fit it into the (buttered and floured) pan. Bake for about ten minutes, till it loses it’s shine. Remove from oven. Pour the butternut mixture in in a smooth layer. Arrange the mushrooms prettily on top.

Bake until the custard is puffy and golden 25-30 minutes.


2 thoughts on “Roasted butternut & portobello tart with a pecan crust

  1. There! I knew you’d have something delicious for David’s birthday – it sounds and looks gorgeous. Hmm, my mouth is watering, but I’ve had my dinner. Let’s move on. I love hearing about people who have lots of stuff. Though I’ve moved house many times (and had to get rid of a LOT last time, which was very distressing) I seem to have managed to cling on to a remarkable number of precious things. They are good for you. (Unless, you know, you happen to be one of those people who need to have things very orderly and under control. But you are not one of those people, and neither am I.)

  2. Thanks, TFD.

    And Isaac’s having a playdate with a new friend today. I asked him if he keeps his room clean. He said, “I try to keep it messy.” Kindred spirit! Well, I do at least try to clean, but Isaac doesn’t!

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