March is so hard. Here in Brooklyn, the weather is starting to warm up, making me think about strawberries, asparagus, ramps, garlic scapes, peas, favas – argh! Did I mention I’m sick of winter? I’m making lemonade out of lemons here by continuing to celebrate winter’s bounty – yams and winter squash and beets and Jerusalem artichokes and onions, sprinkled with thyme, green onions, and goat cheese, and all baked into a buttery crust. Maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye to winter after all. (OK, that was a lie, I’m totally ready.)
This is one of those recipes that is infinitely adaptable. You could add (or subtract) any number of seasonal vegetables. A couple of thinly sliced and sauteed mushrooms would be nice. Chopped and lightly sauteed cabbage or kale would be good. Marjoram or oregano instead of thyme would be lovely. Roasted potatoes would be delicious. Shallots or garlic would be a tasty addition. Acorn squash instead of kabocha would be delectable. I’m running out of adjectives – but you get the idea. If you can’t get your hands on a good aged balsamic vinegar, you can reduce a cheaper balsamic in a small saucepan for a few minutes until a bit more syrupy.
Serve small wedges as an appetizer or side dish (with roast chicken maybe?), or serve larger slices as a main dish, perhaps with a nice little green salad.
For the Crust:
Use the basic one-crust pie dough recipe here.
(You can add a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour to the basic recipe if you like.)
For the Filling:
1 small kabocha squash, seeded and cut into eighths or 1 small yam, cut into bit-sized chunks (or use both!)
1 medium red onion, peeled (root left intact) and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5-6 small beets, washed and long roots trimmed
Leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
1 large Jerusalem artichoke, scrubbed well and sliced very thin using a mandoline or Japanese slicer
2 green onions (white and green parts), sliced on the bias
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Aged balsamic vinegar, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- On a large baking sheet, toss the squash or yam (or both) and the red onion chunks with the extra virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Wrap the beets in tinfoil.
- Roast the squash (or yams), the onions, and the beets until tender. The squash and the onions will take between 35-40 minutes (depending on how thick you’ve cut them), while the beets (depending on their size) may take up to an hour and 15 minutes or longer.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven as soon as they are tender. Cool to room temperature.
- Peel the squash, if using, and chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks. Separate the onions into “petals”. Peel and slice the beets.
- Turn up the oven to 425ºF. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat or with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough to 13-inches in diameter. In the center of the dough disk, layer the squash, red onions, sliced beets, Jerusalem artichokes, and green onion slices, scattering thyme leaves, goat cheese chunks, and a sprinkling of kosher salt between layers of vegetables.
- Bring the dough up over the vegetables, creating large folds as you go (it doesn’t have to be terribly exact – this is a rustic tart, after all) leaving an open space in the middle.
- Transfer crostata to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the goat cheese is brown in places and bubbly.
- Grind a bit of black pepper over the crostata. Cut into wedges, and drizzle the vegetable part of the tart with the balsamic vinegar.