Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

Butternut Squash Polenta

When I saw this recipe in the New York Times last week, I though, why have I never thought of adding grated winter squash to polenta? It seems like such a natural paring and after trying this dish I can tell you it is a delicious natural paring and one I’ll be using from now on.

Grated squashThe recipe is quick and easy taking a little over 30 minutes to complete. Grated winter squash is simmered with polenta and bay leaf until they are tender, then you add a little butter and black pepper and the polenta is done. While the polenta cooks, you brown the sausage and caramelize the onions.  What could be easier? Add a nice green salad and dinner is served.

Butternut Squash Polenta 2

Polenta simmering with grated winter squash and bay leaf.

I used andouille sausage since I had some in the freezer and loved the contrast between the spicy sausage and the sweet taste of the squash and onions. I think you could use just about any kind of sausage and have a satisfying result. I did use rosemary but not the fennel seeds, mostly because I didn’t have them on hand. Using sage instead of rosemary could also be a nice variation.

Thanks to Melissa Clark at the New York Times for this keeper. You can find the recipe, a “how to” video and more information about polenta here.

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Warm Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart


This beautiful recipe comes by way of my friend, Kevin. He made these beautiful little tarts for a dinner on Saturday and I asked if I could include the recipe as part of my “love of onions” series. The recipe and Kevin’s notes arrived today.

Goat Cheese Tart With Caramelized Onions

From The Balthazar Cookbook

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces

2 extra-large egg yolks

3 tablespoons ice-cold water

FOR THE FILLING

¼ cup olive oil

3 large yellow onions, halved through the stem end and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch half-moons

1 spring of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 extra-large eggs

1 extra-large egg yolk, beaten

To make the crusts, combine the flour, salt, and chilled butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the 2 egg yolks and ice water through the feed tube. Continue to process until the dough forms a ball, about 20 seconds. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into 1 disk if making the 10-inch tart, or into 6 equally sized disks if making the 4-inch tarts. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Over a low flame, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, cooking the onions until soft and golden, reducing their volume by nearly half; this can take up to 1 hour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, draining off any excess oil. Discard the thyme and bay leaf.

Mean while, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Coat the tart pan(s) with nonstick spray. Fit the dough snugly into the pan(s), pressing it firmly into the bottom edge and fluted sides. Trim the excess with a sharp knife, and prick the dough several times with the tines of a fork. Place the tart pan on a sheet tray for easy handling. Line the dough with aluminum foil, and weigh down with raw rice or beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake a few minutes more, until the crust takes on a light brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while the filling is completed.

In a food processor or in the bowl of an electric mixer mix the goat cheese, cream cheese, 2 eggs, and the remaining ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell(s) and pour the cheese mixture over the onions, filling to just below the rim. Using a wide pastry brush, gently brush the beaten egg yolk over the top of the tart. Aim for complete coverage.

Bake for 12 minutes, until set. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and serve warm.

KEVIN’S NOTES:

The onions did take an hour! I made individual tarts, but there was way too much filling left. I think I could have made at least 3 more tartlets. I may put the leftover onions and cheese filling in ramekins and bake them without a crust. Or, I may coat the bottom with breadcrumbs. Next time I’ll make one large tart. Enjoy!

WHAT TO BUY AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET

Goat cheese

Thyme

Extra-large eggs

3 large yellow onions