Squash, pecan, spinach and blue cheese torte
The combination of roasted butternut squash, sage and pecans is taken up a notch by blue cheese and encased in crumbly pastry for a fine lunch.
For the shortcrust pastry
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 125g/4½oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 3–4 tbsp iced water
For the filling
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm/½in chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 75g/2½oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 300g/10½oz spinach
- 75g/2½oz piquillo peppers, chopped
- 200g/7oz gorgonzola (or alternative vegetarian blue cheese), broken into small pieces
- handful freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and slowly add enough iced water to make a dough. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface until about 2mm thick. It can be rolled into a square, round or a rustic shape as long as it fits onto your baking tray.
Transfer to a baking tray and prick with a fork. Put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, then bake for 10–15 minutes, or until the pastry is a light golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly and reduce the oven temperature to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
Toss the butternut squash a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is just tender.
Remove the squash from the oven and sprinkle with the sage, onion , garlic, pecans and cayenne pepper. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the pecans are lightly toasted. Allow to cool.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Tip in the spinach and season well. Stir vigorously until the spinach has wilted. Tip into a colander placed over a bowl and squeeze out any excess liquid. Chop roughly.
Stir the chopped spinach, peppers and the blue cheese through the squash mixture. Spread the mixture loosely over the pastry shape leaving a 1cm/½in border around the edge. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan, if using, and bake for 15 minutes.
Both gorgonzola and Parmesan contain animal rennet, but vegetarian alternatives are widely available.