Butternut squash might be a bit more of an autumnal ingredient, but it brings some sweet sunshine to this dish. This is perfect as part of a picnic. Caramelised onions and squash work great against salty stilton and make for a very moreish tart. I’d suggest serving this one with something light, fresh and citrusy like a rocket, fennel and lemon salad and maybe a crisp, dry white wine. A French Sauvignon Blanc would go down a treat.
For shortcrust pastry:
- 200g plain flour
- 100g butter (cold)
- 5g salt
- 15ml cold water
For the filling:
- Half a medium butternut squash
- 1 red onion
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves)
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil (for roasting)
- 150g Stilton cheese
- 50g grated cheddar cheese
- 3 eggs
- 100ml heavy cream
1. To make the pastry, add the flour and salt to a large bowl. Then cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Rub the butter and flour together with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs and there aren’t any large lumps of butter remaining. Make sure not to use the palms of the hands as this will warm the butter. Now add the cold water to the bowl and, using a knife, mix the breadcrumb mixture and water until the dough starts to come together. With your hands, press the dough together until it is one large, fairly consistent mass. The dough should be fairly dry, but still hold together when shaped and squished into a ball. If the dough isn’t coming together then you can add a little more water, being careful to not make the dough too wet as this will lead to tough pastry. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. Whilst the pastry dough rests, preheat your oven to 200°C. Peel the butternut squash, remove any seeds and chop into roughly 2cm cubes. Peel the onions and chop into wedges. Add the squash and onions to a roasting tin along with the sprigs of thyme, a couple glugs of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven at 200°C for 30-40 minutes.
3. Now that the veg is roasting, take the pastry from the fridge, remove the cling film and place on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten and roll out the ball of pastry so that it is big enough (with a little overhang) to fill the tin that you will be baking the tart in. A loose based flan tin about 23cm wide works well for this recipe. Lay the rolled pastry across the tin and using a scrap of excess dough press the pastry into the tin to fit its form. Now blindbake the tart case. Do this by lining the tart with a large sheet of baking parchment, filling with baking beans, and putting the tin in the oven on a baking tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The pastry case should be firm and not too brown. When the 15 to 20 minutes is up, carefully remove the baking parchment and beans and continue baking for another 5 minutes.
4. Remove the veg and tart case from the oven and allow to cool whilst you make the tart filling. To make the filling, beat together the three eggs and cream in a bowl, stir in the grated cheddar and a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Once the tart and veg have cooled a little, add the squash and onions to the base of the tart making sure they are evenly distributed. Then crumble the Stilton over the layer of veg. Gently pour the egg mixture into the tart to fill it. Return the filled tart to the oven on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C. When cooked the tart should be golden brown all over and with only a slight wobble in the centre. Once out of the oven, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing into the tart and serving.
Recipe & words: Stuart Dolby
Photography: Helena Dolby