Roasted butternut squash forms the base for this delicious savory dessert that's topped with pomegranate simple syrup!
Product samples provided by Sonoma Syrup. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
A few years ago when I was out in Ashland, Oregon visiting my parents, who also love food and wine, I had a similar dish which inspired this post. Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which draws nearly 400,000 people to this rather small Southern Oregon town each summer. With a lot of visitors come a lot of restaurants, so for a town of 20,000 people, there are a lot of fantastic spots to choose from.
This particular inspiration comes from a restaurant in town called Amuse. We went there for dinner on the last night of my trip and even though it is not one of the current hot spots in town the food is always fantastic!
So when you looked at the category for this recipe were you thinking butternut squash for dessert?? Well, yes! It's kind of like a pumpkin dessert, but perhaps even a little more savory. I loved it when I had it that day in Ashland which motivated me to come home and create something that I could share with all of you.
Earlier that same year, I'd also been approached by a company called Sonoma Syrup about trying out some of their infused simple syrups. One of the samples they sent me was a pomegranate simple syrup, which I thought would be the perfect balance of slightly sweet with this savory tart.
Tips for making butternut squash tarts
There are two key parts to these tarts - the crust and the filling.
Roast the squash: Since this takes a while be sure to start with this step. Once you get the squash in the oven you can work on the crust.
Make the crust: I find a food processor to be the easiest way to make pie crust. You don't have to struggle with cutting the butter in evenly, the food processor does the work for you. In a pinch, you can use pre-made, rolled pie crust for this recipe.
Make the filling: You'll want to let the squash cool for a few minutes before you start on the filling, however, it can still be quite warm when you begin mixing in the other ingredients.
A note about the ingredients
- Pomegranate seeds: I generally get pomegranate seeds from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Since they are already out of the fruit it makes it much easier than removing them yourself. I've seen them at other stores as well, so check your local store to see if they have them this way. If not, you can buy a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds
- Butternut squash: Though I prefer to use fresh, you can substitute frozen butternut squash for this recipe, however, it may need to roast for a bit longer. If you don’t want to take the time to cube fresh squash many grocery stores also sell it already peeled and cubed. I often peel and cube one or two squash at the beginning of the week so I have it ready to roast anytime.
- Cream cheese: You can use ⅓ less fat or full-fat cream cheese in this recipe. I don't recommend fat-free as the tart won't have the same consistency.
things you may want for this recipe
Sonoma Syrup Pomegranate Simple Syrup - This slightly sweet syrup made the perfect topping for this savory dessert. It can also be used in drinks, on roasted veggies or even in a salad dressing.
Mini Tart Pan - These little tart dishes are great for individual servings of desserts or other tarts. I have four of them, which should be more than enough for most kitchens.
Food Processor – My food processor is definitely one of my favorite kitchen tools. I use it at least once a week. If you have a Cuisinart Food processor and you haven't already done so, be sure to check their website to see if it's part of the recall for issues with the blades. They will send you a new blade free of charge if yours is part of the recall.
Butternut Squash Tart
For the crust:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 ounces butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 ounces cold water
For the filling:
- 1 ¼ cup cubed butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup pomegranate simple syrup
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Heat the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Roast the squash. Add the squash and oil to a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet with sides and roast for 30 minutes.
- Make the crust. While the squash is roasting, prepare the tart crust by placing the flour salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until a small, pea-like meal forms. With the motor running, slowly add the water. Continue to process just until a ball forms.
- Roll the dough. Turn the dough ball out onto a surface lightly coated with flour and roll to approximately ¼" thick. Coat 2 mini tart pans with cooking spray. Cut dough in half (depending on how you rolled, you may have to take up the scraps and re-roll for the 2nd tart). Press the dough into each tart pan, being sure to come all the way up the sides. Piece the bottom with a fork a few times or use pie weights to keep the dough from puffing.
- Pre-bake the tart shells. When the squash is done remove it from the oven and bake the tarts (dough only) for 15 minutes.
- Make the filling. While the tart shells are cooking add the squash to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade. Pulse for 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add the cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and salt. Process until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- Fill the tarts. Remove the pre-baked tart shells from the oven and divide the butternut squash mixture between the two of them. Return them to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve. When the tarts are done baking remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly. Carefully remove the tarts from the pans. Top with simple syrup and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
This post was originally published in January 2017. It was updated in November 2020 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.