Try Rosie's butternut squash tart, then check out our best savoury tarts and more ways with butternut squash.

Recipe author Rosie Birkett says: Autumn is a time when my kitchen comes alive once more in earnest and I fall back in love with those slow, careful kitchen crafts like tart making. Seasonal produce at this time of year lends itself to the gentle rhythm of kitchen pottering and asks you to work a little harder than the ripe, showy goods of high summer, but rewards you richly for your efforts. Among the stars of this season are gourds and squashes, whose sweet, nutty flavours are a key part of my autumnal cooking repertoire.

The allure of squashes lies in their versatility. From comforting soups that hug the soul on chilly evenings to hearty stews that beg to be shared with loved ones around a candlelit table, these humble gourds inspire creativity and nourish in equal measure. And they also look rather nice as table decorations until you decide their time has come.

While there are so many gorgeous varieties out there at this time of year – and I’m always on the lookout for Crown Prince, Red Kuri and Kabocha – I find myself drawn to the butternut squash, with its curved neck and smooth, cream skin. It’s easy to come by in most food shops at this time of year and gives real bang for your buck in flavour terms.

This tart is a showcase for my favourite thing to do with butternut, which is to roast it with some aromatic spices – I favour cumin for its warmth and earthiness, and coriander seed for the zing, plus a little pul biber for sweet, smoky heat. Roasting enhances the squash’s natural sweetness and deepens its flavours.

My tart props the roasted squash up on a fluffy, creamy, moussy layer of whipped feta, under which pickled red onion cuts through the richness of the nutty, super-crumbly walnut pastry. It’s all crowned with crispy fried sage leaves and a drizzle of their wonderfully aromatic oil. It’s a dish that invites us to slow down and connect with the seasons, and I really hope you’re going to love it as much as I do.

Butternut squash tart recipe



  • 185g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 40g walnuts
  • 120g butter, cold, cubed, plus extra for the tin
  • 1 egg


  • 1kg butternut squash, peeled, halved, deseeded and sliced into 1½cm half moons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle
  • ½ tsp pul biber
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 200g feta (or vegetarian alternative), crumbled
  • 180ml double cream
  • 6 large sage leaves, or 8 small ones
  • 1 tbsp rose or apricot harissa


  • STEP 1

    In a food processor, blitz the flour, walnuts and a pinch of salt until the walnuts have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the egg and mix until the dough comes together.

  • STEP 2

    Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead it briefly until smooth. Dust with a little more flour if it’s sticky and press it into a disc, wrap it in baking paper and chill for at least 30 mins.

  • STEP 3

    Carefully roll out the chilled pastry between two layers of baking paper – I find this really helps because it’s a very short crust – to fit a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Gently press the dough into the tin, pushing into every curve and allowing a collar of overhang in case of shrinkage. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. At this point I like to chill it for another 10 mins to firm it up again. After another chill, line the pastry with baking paper and fill it with baking beans.

  • STEP 4

    Blind bake the pastry for 12-15 mins or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove the baking paper and beans, then bake for an additional 12-15 mins or until the base is cooked through and the pastry is looking browned and nutty. If it’s poofed up while it’s in the oven, put the beans back in their paper to weigh it down. Set aside to cool and turn up the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

  • STEP 5

    Toss the squash with the oil, spices, salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and roast for 25-30 mins or until they are tender and slightly caramelised. Remove from the oven.

  • STEP 6

    Put the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with hot water. Leave for 1-2 mins then drain and add a pinch of salt and half of the lemon juice, scrunching it all together to lightly pickle it.

  • STEP 7

    Combine the feta, cream, remaining lemon juice, zest and 1 tbsp of water in a food processor. Whizz until it becomes creamy and smooth.

  • STEP 8

    In a small pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat. Fry the sage for a few seconds until they turn crispy. Remove to a piece of kitchen paper and season with sea salt, reserving the sage-infused oil.

  • STEP 9

    Evenly strew the pickled onion across the bottom of the cooled pastry case and spread the whipped feta mixture on top. Swirl through the harissa, then arrange the roasted squash on top of the feta. Garnish with the sage leaves and drizzle over their infused oil. Serve the tart chilled or at room temperature.


Alternative savoury tarts


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