Pimento butternut squash tarts with feta & thyme

Pimento butternut squash tarts with feta & thyme

Melissa Thompson's recipe can be made ahead and is perfect for a gathering. Pimento has notes of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg – which is why it’s known as allspice here – so the tarts are well-suited to winter eating. The crisped seeds add lovely texture and ensure nothing is wasted.

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  • Makes12
  • CourseBuffet
  • Prepare20 mins
  • Cook1 hr 15 mins
  • Total time1 hr 35 mins
  • PlusPreparation time 20 minutes + chilling and cooling

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Ingredients

  • ½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes, keep the seeds (about 500g flesh, 20g seeds)
  • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil, plus 1 tsp and extra for drizzling
  • tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 sprig/s fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bulb/s garlic, root end trimmed off
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Essential Free Range White Egg
  • 75ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 15g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • 50g soft cheese (or mascarpone)
  • ½ x 200g pack feta, cut into 1cm cubes
  • Clear honey, to finish (optional)

For the pastry

  • 145g salted butter, cold and cubed
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 British Blacktail Free Range Medium Egg yolks (see tip)

Method

  1. For the pastry, lightly oil a 3-3.5cm deep, 12-hole muffin tin. You can use deeper trays, but don’t make the tart cases higher than around 3cm. Pulse the butter and flour together in a food processor until crumbly. Add the egg yolks with 2-3 tbsp cold water and pulse until fully incorporated. Empty onto a work surface and bring together into a ball of dough. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour

  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Put the squash into a roasting tin big enough to hold the cubes in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil, then add 1 tsp paprika, the thyme, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Sit the garlic in a square of foil, drizzle the cut end with oil and add a pinch of salt. Wrap in the foil and add to the roasting tray. Place on the oven’s top shelf. Cook for 30 minutes, until the squash is tender, then leave to cool.

  3. On a separate baking tray mix the squash seeds with 1 tsp oil, ¼ tsp smoked paprika, the allspice, cumin and a pinch more salt and pepper. Bake at the same time as the squash. Remove once crisp, after around 30 minutes.

  4. Roll the chilled dough on a floured surface until 0.5cm thick. Cut circles of dough using an 11cm round cutter, or similar-sized small bowl. Reform any remaining dough into a ball and roll again to cut more circles until you have 12.

  5. Gently gather the edges of the circles and lower into the muffin tray cups. Carefully push them all the way in and press the edges out, pushing up to the top. Cut 12 x 10cm squares of foil, press into the pastry and fill with baking beans. Blind bake at 180ºC, gas mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and baking beans, and bake for 5 minutes more until pale golden.

  6. Beat the egg in a large jug. Put the milk into a saucepan and add the thyme from the baked squash tray. Heat until the milk starts to steam. Remove and discard the thyme, then add the milk to a food processor with ½ the cooked squash, ¼ of the cloves from the roasted bulb of garlic and the parmesan and soft cheese. Blitz until smooth, then gradually add to the beaten egg, stirring as you go.

  7. Pour the squash mixture into the cooked pastry cases, leaving a small gap at the top. Cook for 15 minutes, until set on top but wobbly inside.

  8. Mix the remaining butternut squash with the feta. When the tarts have had 15 minutes, top with the butternut and feta. Bake for 10 minutes more, until the topping is piping hot and the feta has started to colour around the edges. The filling will be set inside. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Drizzle with a little honey, if using, and top with the crispy pumpkin seeds to serve.

Cook’s tip

The egg whites can be frozen to use later. Keep them clearly labelled and use within 1 month. Defrost in the fridge. The remaining cooked garlic can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Nutritional

Typical values per item when made using specific products in recipe

Energy

1,125kJ/ 270kcals

Fat

18g

Saturated Fat

9.8g

Carbohydrates

20g

Sugars

4.5g

Fibre

1.8g

Protein

6.3g

Salt

0.7g

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