Savory tarts can be dainty things, eaten on your finest china with a pinkie in the air.
But not this one. Loaded with roasted vegetables and cheese on a whole-grain crust, it’s a hearty meal that you can eat out of hand, with your pinkie occupied by holding the slice.
It’s gorgeous, too. With a mixture of velvety butternut squash, earthy mushrooms and sweet green leeks, this tart makes for an especially pretty yet satisfying vegetarian meal.
The crust is made with yeast, which is what really makes this tart rustic, rather than refined. If working with yeast makes you nervous, this recipe is a good place to begin.
The dough is so simple you can mix it by hand with a wooden spoon and then knead it for just a few minutes, until it starts to spring back when you pull it. It should be somewhat elastic but not bouncy. Think Silly Putty rather than Spaulding.
Then set the dough aside to rise. The warmer your room, the less time it will take to double in bulk. In a cold room it could take two or three hours, whereas a warm room gets the job done in half that amount of time. Or let it rise in the fridge overnight. It’s a very adaptable recipe.
The whole-grain flour in the dough gives it heft, along with a gentle nuttiness. I like either whole-wheat or rye flour here, but you can substitute spelt or einkorn. Just be sure to use a flour with gluten in it. In this particular recipe, gluten-free flours (brown rice, millet, oat) won’t bake up as pleasingly chewy.
I’ve topped the tart with mushrooms, leeks and winter squash, all roasted before they meet the crust.
This is an important step. You want to roast the vegetables until they are almost, but not quite, caramelized. They should be pale golden at the edges and tender in the center when you pull them from the oven, but not thoroughly browned because they will continue to cook when you bake them on the crust.
You can roast the vegetables up to eight hours in advance, but the tart itself is best made within an hour or two of serving. That’s when the crust is at its most crisp and the cheese still soft and oozing. That said, you can still enjoy the tart the next day, especially if you reheat it.
Leftover and cold, eaten wrapped in a napkin on your way out the door, this robust tart can hold its own.
And to Drink . . .
This savory tart presents a challenge. Mushrooms go beautifully with red wines, while leeks, squash and cheese all cry out for whites. Pick whichever you prefer, but avoid tannic reds and oaky whites. In reds, I would look for something fruity and balanced: Pinot noir would be great, as would Beaujolais, young Riojas and the more restrained American grenaches and carignans. You could try monastrells and other wines from southeastern Spain, and Valpolicellas from Italy. Among whites, I would look at dry chenin blancs from the Loire Valley, unoaked chardonnays and possibly rieslings from Austria or Alsace. A dry sparkling wine would also be excellent.
Roasted mushroom and butternut squash tart
Yield: 8 servings; total time: 1 hour, plus 1 1/2 hours’ rising
For the crust:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups/160 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed
3/4 cup/110 grams whole-wheat or rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
For the topping:
10 ounces/283 grams oyster or other mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1 pound/454 grams butternut squash, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 2 cups)
Fine sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup/114 grams grated white cheddar or Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
1. Prepare the dough: In a medium bowl, sprinkle dry yeast and sugar over 2/3 cup/158 milliliters warm water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes, then add oil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours and salt, then stir in yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is uniform and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed. (Flour your hands if necessary to keep dough from sticking.) Or, if the dough seems a bit dry, add a bit more water.
3. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn dough to coat it with oil, cover with a damp cloth and let rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours (or longer if you kitchen is cold or drafty).
4. Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Heat oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms and leeks with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread squash and mushroom mixtures out evenly on their respective pans and roast until lightly browned at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes for the mushrooms, 18 to 22 for the squash. Don’t let the vegetables get too brown, you will be cooking them again. Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack and let vegetables cool. (You can roast the vegetables up to 8 hours in advance.)
5. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Roll dough out on a floured surface to an 11- by 16-inch/28- by 41-centimeter rectangle, then transfer to oiled baking sheet and press the dough out to the sides. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
6. Heat oven back to 450 degrees. Spread mushroom mixture over dough, sprinkle with thyme and red pepper flakes and top with squash. Sprinkle lightly with salt, then with cheese, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake until golden brown all over, 14 to 18 minutes. Serve hot or warm, sprinkled with chives if desired and lemon juice to taste.