Hi friends and welcome! It’s that time of year when we start to think about Thanksgiving and all the comforting foods that surround this holiday! Personally, I’m more of a sides girl. Forget the turkey, just gimme all the stuffing and roasted veggies and I’m a happy girl! The temps are still in the 90’s here in Southern California and this girl is beginning to lose her cool. Please send Fall, and fast! I’m not sure if I can deal with a 90 degree Thanksgiving day feast. Who can even eat a lot when it’s this hot? I don’t want to be sweating over my plate. Whatever the weather, I will sure to be eating and spending time with family and friends.
Truth be told, I use to hate to cook on Thanksgiving. I am the only foodie in my family, so I would cook all of these elaborate meals that went unappreciated (sorry Mom!). I would spend hours/days in the kitchen and then on Thanksgiving the food would be devoured in 10 minutes. Sooooo not worth it! For several years we went away to Palm Springs during the Thanksgiving break. We would rent a house and hang out by the pool. Although I love Palm Springs and getting away, honestly, it killed me a little inside to not be cooking on this very important food holiday. Last year, as well as this year, we are going to our friends house. They invite all the stragglers and we cook, eat, laugh and drink while the kids run around and play. I love it!
So in preparation of the holiday, my friend and I decided to protest this weather and get in the kitchen and cook a Thanksgiving appetizer, perfect in any weather. This tart is an explosion of flavors and textures. You’ve got the flaky puff pastry, creamy whipped feta, sweet roasted butternut squash & onions, crispy brussels sprouts, and of course don’t forget the heat from the candied sriracha pecans!
After we cooked, we ate and swooned over how amazing and easy it was! We both decided that this will be THE appetizer we bring to the feast. I hope you and your family love it as much as we do! And I also wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving filled with food, love and laughter!
Makes 2 Tarts
4 cups cubed butternut squash
3 garlic cloves (kept in their paper wrapping)
1 onion (sliced thin)
2 cups shredded brussels sprouts
1 80z. block of feta cheese (reserve 1 T for garnish if you like)
3 T cream cheese (I used a vegan cream cheese by Kite Hill but you can use regular)
1/2 t smoked paprika (optional)
1/4 t cayenne pepper (or more if you like spicy) optional
1 package puff pastry (thawed according to package directions) My packet included 2 sheets and this is what you will need for this recipe
2 T thyme leaves
1 cup pecans (or nut of choice)
1 1/2 T coconut sugar
1 T sriracha (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss butternut squash and garlic with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and place on a baking tray. Toss the onion with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and place on another baking tray (spread it to one side of the tray so you can squeeze in the brussels on the other side). Repeat with the brussels and add it to the other half of the baking tray with the onion.
Roast the butternut squash at 400F for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
Cook the onion for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from tray and set aside if the brussels aren’t done yet.
Cook the brussels sprouts for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. Check on them at the 15 minute mark to make sure they aren’t burning.
While the veggies are cooking, prepare the whipped feta. Using a food processor, puree the feta and the cream cheese (and spices if using) until smooth and fluffy. About 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the candied sriracha pecans if using. Add pecans, 1 T coconut sugar and sriracha to a small bowl and toss to coat. Add the pecans to a pan over medium low heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until crunchy and the sugar is melted. Pour nuts onto a sheet of parchment paper or baking tray and toss with the remaining 1/2 T coconut sugar. Let cool.
Remove veggies from oven and set aside. If you like, you can puree the butternut squash cubes so it’s a smooth consistency, like I did here. But it’s also ok to leave as chunks. The choice is yours.
Take your thawed puff pastry and put them on a baking sheet with some parchment or non stick paper. With a knife, score a 1 inch border around the edge of the puff pasty (be careful not to cut all the way through down to the bottom). Use a fork to prick the inside several times (about 10 x’s all around) with a fork (do not prick the border). Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. When you remove from oven, the whole puff pastry might puff up, but you can gently push down the middle with a spoon, leaving the outside border raised. If the middle sticks to the border while you are pushing it down, you can use a knife to gently release the middle section away from the border.
This is great served warm or at room temp! You can make a day ahead and just keep in fridge until ready to eat. Then warm in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.
Layer the the inside of the puff pastry as follows (from bottom to top):
Butternut Squash (cubes or puree)
Sprinkle of thyme
Candied Sriracha Pecans (if using)
Reserved 1 T feta sprinkled on top