By: Maryam Autry
As we inch ever closer to the Holidays and invitations to Friendsgivings and other holiday parties start popping up in our inboxes, questions of what to bring can often be a stresser. After too many years of electing to provide the sipping sauce (read: wine) at these gatherings, I happened upon a recipe in Deb Perelman’s “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” that has become a complete game-changer. Her butternut squash and caramelized onion galette is what ought to be considered the little black dress of delectable dishes. Dressed up or down, this dish is a solid go-to for anyone from the novice cook to the established chef.
The recipe calls for few ingredients that not only pack a punch in flavor but also won’t hurt your wallet. It’s incredibly easy to make, and it’s so versatile that it pulls not just double-duty, but triple-duty as a weeknight dinner paired with a green salad, an appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and as Perelman says, “the thing you can bring to a wine-and-cheese cocktail party that nobody will be able to stop talking about.” Simply divide and assemble into a few smaller galettes, and you’ll have friends wondering why you only brought wine to past gatherings.
The recipe below is an adaptation of the one found here and in Perelman’s cookbook. For the dough, use puff pastry or round pie crust. Either works well when pressed for time or making pastry dough from scratch is not in the cards, and instead of thyme or sage, I used rosemary. The one thing we guarantee is that this dish will catch the attention of party-goers as much as your favorite LBD does.
Puff pastry or round pie crust
1 large butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 large sweet onions, such as Spanish or Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste (optional)
2 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (about 6 ½ ounces)
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for glaze (optional, but makes for a croissant-looking finish)
Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a ½ to ¾ inch chunks. Toss the diced pieces in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt and fresh ground pepper. Transfer the squash chunks to a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes or until squash is tender, turning the pieces occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. Set aside to cool slightly. Leave oven on.
Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt the butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet, and cook the onions over medium-low heat with the sugar and the remaining teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if you’re using it.
Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
Assemble galette: Transfer the puff pastry dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread squash-and-cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 ½ to 2 inch border. Fold the border over the squash and cheese, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush the outside crust with the egg-yolk wash, if using.
Bake: Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the galette from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges, and serve hot, warm or at room temperature (Optional: sprinkle with extra rosemary before serving). Serves 8.
Note: This recipe makes enough filling to make two 9-inch galettes.