28 May 2013 8:25 AM
Cushaw Tart with Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onions



I wasn’t sure if this should go in the recipe section or not since I can’t really write out a recipe for it.  All I can do is throw out some ideas and hope that you can be inspired to play with your own food.

Last week we had Cuban food and came home with some leftover black beans and rice.  We also started getting Cook’s Illustrated. (How did I make it to 40+ and not know about this magazine?)  In the May/June issue, there was a recipe for Cuban-Style Picadillo.  So I made that, delicious, and we ate it with the black beans & rice + sautéed kale/collards because it is that time of year.  It would have served 10 so there was a lot left over.  I decided on empanadas the next day.

We’re still working on that last cushaw, so I also thought I’d make some squash & goat cheese empanadas.  Here is where our story begins.

Note:  In case you don’t know – and I wouldn’t if D hadn’t grown them last summer -- cushaw is a very giant, hearty winter squash.  We had four that we ate on all winter.  Just cut off a chunk, cover the end in plastic wrap, and stick back in the refrigerator.  The texture is like pumpkin, but milder in flavor.  If you Google it, you will see mostly cushaw pie, which aficionados seem to like better than pumpkin pie.  But we’re not a sweets family, so I’ve just been looking up savory butternut squash or pumpkin recipes.

Back to the “recipe”, I roasted a couple cups of diced cushaw with onion, olive oil & salt which I threw in the food processor with more olive oil.  Apparently, I had been a little heavy handed with salt.  Actually, a lot heavy handed, and it was completely inedible.  I added some milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika & pepper.  Still, inedible.  I boiled 3 small potatoes.  Inedible.  Boiled 4 more small potatoes.  Still salty, but possibly okay.  Added some more milk to get a creamy texture that I thought would be good in the empanadas.  I now had a quart of cushaw/potato puree.  After assembling some empanadas, which turned out great, by the way, I had a 3¾ cups puree.  Hmmm.

The puree sat in the refrigerator for another couple of days as I tried to figure out what to do next. D suggested ravioli which would be delicious, but still only use up a little bit of the stuff.  I needed something that was heavy on the filling and light on the wrapper.

If I made a tart, it would use up more of the puree than individual empanadas or ravioli.  So the next step.  I made my favorite pastry dough recipe (I also used it for the empanada dough - http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/05/french-tomato-tart-recipe/).  I always make this by hand by rubbing the butter through my fingertips and sweeping the flour mixture into the egg/water.  It always comes out perfect.  I put it in the refrigerator while I tackled the cushaw/potato puree.

I whisked together 2 eggs and about 1 cup whole milk ricotta.  Then I started adding puree until it seemed right.  It was most of the leftover puree and the salt level was finally right.  There was an ear of roasted corn left over so I cut the kernels off and threw those in for some texture.  In the meantime, I caramelized some onions, which I also managed to over salt.  I don’t know what is wrong with me and the salt pinching.  I filled the tart shell with the cushaw/potato/egg/ricotta mixture.  (I still have 2 cups left over which means ravioli, I think.)  Dotted the top with goat cheese leftover from the empanada making, and the caramelized onions.  Baked for 40 minutes at 400°.

Cushaw Tart

It was delicious and what T wanted in her lunch today along with sautéed kale/collards.  I guess the moral of the story is, sometimes cooking fails can be salvageable.  Here is the recipe, the best I can come up with.  I'm really not sure how accurate it is.

Cushaw Tart with Goat Cheese & Carmelized Onions

3 cups cushaw or other winter squash, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled and diced
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1 t salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta
1 ear corn kernels, optional
2 oz goat cheese
1 onion, halved and sliced in thin half moons
1 TBS butter
Your favorite tart dough in a tart mold or pie pan

Preheat oven to 400°.  Toss cushaw, onion & potato with 1 TBS olive oil & salt.  Roast 30 minutes or until soft.  Let cool and puree in a food processor with additional 1 TBS olive oil & milk.  Add seasonings and taste.  It should be just slightly salty at this point.  The ricotta will mellow it out.

Melt butter in to sauté pan, add onions.  Cook over low to medium heat until caramelized.  About 20 minutes if you are impatient.  40 minutes if you do it right.

Beat together eggs & ricotta, add puree.  Mix in corn if using.  Pour into tart shell.  Dot top with goat cheese and caramelized onions.  Bake in 400° oven for 40 minutes, or until puffed slightly and set.


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