Butternut Squash and Spinach Tart
with Olive Oil Crust
​

During Autumn, I quickly shift my menus to all things Winter Squash inspired. Butternut Squash tops the list of my go-to favorites as it contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich source of dietary fiber and phytonutrients. Squash is one of the common vegetables that is often recommended by dietitians for cholesterol controlling and weight-reduction programs. Butternut squash is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin E. High in both vitamin C and beta-carotene, butternut squash offers an immunity boost from its powerful combination of nutrients. Some studies have shown that high-fiber foods may also offer improved immune function. As if this weren't enough, butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

This unique, vegetable side dish can pair well to a main protein entree or holds on its own with a side salad. 

(To streamline your cooking time, roast the smash and pre bake the crust simultaneously. I've also cooked the squash a day ahead and lightly warmed it before adding into tart filling.)

 

Crust:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 T pine nuts, toasted, chopped and divided 
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. Freshly ground, black pepper
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 c. Extra-virgin olive oil
3 T ice water
Cooking spray

Tart:
3 C. Cubed and peeled butternut squash
4 t. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 C. chopped onion (I prefer shallots)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
5 C. Fresh spinach
1 T. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. kosher salt 
1/4 t. Freshly ground, black pepper
2 large eggs (could use a vegan-friendly, egg substitute)
2.5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated and divided (could use a vegan-friendly, cheese substitute)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into in dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, 1 1/2 T, pine nuts, 1/4 salt, 1/4 pepper and 1/4 baking powder into a food processor; pulse 3 times to combine. Next, combine 1/2 C. Oil and 3 T of water in a small bowl. With processor on, slowly add oil mixture through food chute; process until dough is crumbly. Press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-23 minutes or until lightly golden brown. 

  3. Combine cubed squash and 1 t. oil on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; toss. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring once.

  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 T oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 7 minutes. Add spinach, vinegar, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper; cook 2-3 minutes just before all wilts (keeping those valuable nutrients intact).  Combine spinach mixture, eggs and 2 ounces cheese in a large bowl. Add cooked squash and remaining pine nuts; toss gently to coat.

  5. Pour the squash mixture into crust and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake tart at 400 degrees for 23 minutes until filling is set. 

  6. Place oven on broil and watchfully broil tart till top cheese is lightly browned.

 

In addition to reaping the nutritional benefits of Butternut Squash it also falls into the category of a "warm-bodied foods". Most important in this seasonal time of year is for us to eat foods that "warm" our bodies (and perhaps our spirits). This means they best keep our body temperatures up which aides our own metabolism and digestion operations (think of the role a furnace plays in your house's operations). Without them, our systems overwork and in turn it leaves us feeling cold, sluggish and not regulated. 

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