Butternut and parmesan polenta tart

Butternut and parmesan polenta tart

How to Cook Pastry
Peter Cassidy

This pastry has a delicious crumbly texture, rather like a savoury version of shortbread. When used to make tarts, it must be chilled thoroughly until very firm before blind baking. Try adding chopped herbs or a little chilli or smoked paprika to vary the flavour. This recipe can be adapted to make tarts of any size (which do not need to be baked blind). It will make about 24 individual tarts to serve as a starter, or 36 smaller canapé-sized tarts to serve with drinks. For one large tart you will need a 22cm flan tin (or ring).


Quantity Ingredient

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 small butternut squash
or 1/2 large butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g parmesan cheese
good handful sage leaves, (about 15)
2 eggs
2 extra yolks
125ml double cream
freshly ground black pepper

For the polenta and cream cheese pastry

Quantity Ingredient
90g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
90g cream cheese
160g plain flour, plus extra to dust
65g fine polenta
1 egg yolk


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. For the filling, halve the squash lengthways, if using a small one, and place cut side up on a baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cutlery knife slides easily into the flesh.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the pastry, put the butter, cream cheese, flour and polenta in a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Continue to pulse until the crumbs become lumps. Add the egg yolk and pulse a couple more times to distribute it through the dough.
  4. Transfer the dough to the work surface and gently bring it together with your hands (without kneading). Press into a flat disc, wrap well in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  5. When the squash is cooked, allow it to cool a little, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth with a potato masher or ricer. Set aside to cool completely.
  6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about a 3mm thickness and use to line the 22cm flan tin. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until firm to the touch, 20–30 minutes.
  7. Blind bake the pastry for 12 minutes, ensuring the paper is pushed well into the corners of the pastry and the excess paper is folded over the edge of the pastry case, to help prevent the pastry from browning. Remove the beans and paper, taking care as the pastry will still be very soft. Bake for a further 3–4 minutes until the pastry is pale golden brown with no grey patches.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
  9. To make the filling, grate the Parmesan and chop the sage leaves. Lightly beat together the whole eggs, yolks, cream, Parmesan and the puréed butternut squash. Add the chopped sage and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Spoon or pour the filling into the pastry case, filling the case almost to the top. Bake for 30–40 minutes until just set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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