October has arrived, and with it arrived autumn, too … despite the nearly 90° F (30° C) we had this week, the other day the wind changed, and in these last two days the temperatures went down, and it almost seemed fall. It appears that next week they'll rise again, but meanwhile I'm enjoying a few days of soups and hot dishes. If next week I'll have to make a rice salad again, then rice salad will be, but it will be a problem of future Giulia.
However, rising or falling temperatures, finally a vegetable made its entrance again: the beloved, colorful and versatile squash (or pumpkin). I love it so much for its sweet and distinctive taste, that goes well with both the sausage and chocolate… how many other ingredients have this innate ability? Very few.
And then, let's face it, squash is so good even accompanied by other vegetables, for example in the evergreen (or everorange .. ok, bad joke) cream of pumpkin soup, a real must in my kitchen's fall-winter collection (but thanks to the freezer, even in spring it appears on my table … and a friend of mine suggested me to make a summer version of this soup, eating it cold with a sprinkle of cinnamon … so I'll have pumpkin all year).
In short, I just love the pumpkin and squash in all their forms and combinations .. and this year two things will help to bring even more of them on my table, in every possible dish: first of all, other than my trusted dealers in farmers market this year a friend of mine grows pumpkin in her own garden (I could already taste one of her pumpkin… simply delicious!); secondly, later this month I'll attend a cooking class entirely dedicated to pumpkin. I think you'll see this vegetable again and again here on my blog, continuing this saga.
SQUASH, POTATOES AND PROSCIUTTO CRUDO TART
Ingredients (26 cm tart)
For the savory short pastry
* 270 g all-purpose flour
* 30 g whole wheat flour
* 75 g extra-virgin olive oil
* an egg yolk
* cold water
For the filling
* 700 g squash pulp
* 2 medium size potatoes
* a knob of unsalted butter (about 15 g)
* a little onion (a Tropea onion for me) or a little leek
* fresh rosemary
* grated Parmigiano Reggiano
* 150 g sliced prosciutto crudo
* a whole egg + an egg white (to use the left over from short pastry)
* pine nuts (to garnish or to add to the filling)
Start preparing the basis for your filling: bring to a boil a pot of lightly salted water (to parboil vegetables) and, meanwhile, clean the vegetables. Dice potatoes and squash into large pieces and finely chop the onion (or leek).
When the water boils, put in the potatoes and cook them for 5 minutes. Then add the squash and cook for 5 more minutes. During these last minutes, place a knob of butter in a large pan and, when butter is melted, sauté the onion until translucent. After 5 minutes, drain potatoes and squash and sauté them together with the onion. Season with salt and add some fresh rosemary, then let squash and potatoes cook, so that flavors blend together and water (squash is very watery) evaporates.
After cooking, you'll have a very soft mixture, 'cause squash and potatoes will naturally become a sort of puree. Remove the rosemary and place the mixture into a bowl to cool down.
Meanwhile, make the savory short pastry. I wanted a rustic and yet delicate pastry, so I chose to use this recipe I found on Sandra's blog, Un tocco di zenzero. I increased the doses (maintaining the ratios) and I replaced some all-purpose flour with some whole wheat one, but you can safely use only all-purpose flour.
In a bowl combine the extra-virgin olive oil with flour and salt, then add the egg yolk, slightly beaten, and start kneading, adding cold water until you have an elastic dough. I followed Sandra's advice and I didn't refrigerate the dough (like you'd normally do with a buttery short pastry), 'cause it'd become too hard. Roll out 2/3 of the dough in a circle at least 26 cm in diameter and line the tart mold, previously greased and floured. Riddle the dough with holes and go finish the filling.
First of all line the dough with 3 or 4 prosciutto slices. Then mash with a fork the mixture of squash and potatoes (don't blend it, so that you could feel the texture of the two vegetables) and add grated Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto cut into little strips (leaving 2 or 3 slices apart) and then the egg plus the egg white, stirring until you have a smooth and homogeneous mixture; if you want, add also some pine nuts (I'll admit it, I forgot them, and I used them only to garnish). Pour the filling into the pastry shell.
Pre-heat the oven to 356° C (180° C).
Roll out the remaining piece of pastry and cut it into strips and then place them on your tart making the classic grid pattern. I used half pastry strips and half prosciutto strips. Add some pine nuts to garnish and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let it cool down and then enjoy this fantastic savory tart.