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Rethinking butternut squash as simple tart

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

Much as I love butternut squash — and firmly believe it belongs on the Thanksgiving table — I've grown bored with the ways it typically shows up.

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, then briefly reheated just before serving.

Savory butternut squash tart

Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

9-inch prepared (rolled) pie crust

1 3/4 pounds peeled and cubed (about 1/2 -inch cubes) butternut squash

3 eggs

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 oven to 350 F.

Unroll pie crust and set it over a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Gently press crust into pan and up sides. Using your fingers, crimp and remove any excess dough. Refrigerate crust.

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water, then fit it with a steamer basket. Set squash in steamer basket, then bring water to a boil. Cover and steam squash until very tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer squash to blender or food processor. Process or blend until mostly smooth. Add eggs, cheese, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper, then process again until very smooth.

Remove crust from refrigerator and set it on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour squash mixture into crust, then bake for 25 minutes, or until set at center. Cool slightly before cutting into slices.

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 90 calories from fat (41 percent 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.