As someone who has a deep love for vegetables, I’m never one to raise an eyebrow at meatless mains. But when it’s time to figure out a vegetarian Thanksgiving main course to feed the non-meat eaters in our family? Stumped. Although Thanksgiving is really all about the sides for me, I still want everyone around the table to know that they’ve got a main event with their name on it.
So this year, I decided to create a show-stopping vegetarian main that even the meat eaters would love, and my Butternut Squash Tart with Ricotta was born. A flaky pre-baked pie crust layered with creamy herbed ricotta, then topped with layers of squash, sweet potato, and apples that get caramelized and golden in the oven—this is a major stunner that brings so much wow factor with minimal effort. Scroll on for everything you need to know about this butternut squash tart—and bonus points that it also happens to be perfect for your next cozy brunch.
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Here’s why you’ll love this Butternut Squash Tart
I’ll admit—I was kinda shocked at just how easy this tart turned out to be. You will want a mandolin to make quick work of slicing all the veggies thinly, and if you don’t have one, I’m officially giving you permission to finally pull the trigger. I use mine constantly.
The creaminess of the herbed ricotta is the perfect savory filling on top of the golden, buttery pie crust. I used store-bought dough (Pepperidge Farm, baby), and pre-baked it before filling.
My favorite part of making this tart was the process of layering all the squash, sweet potato, apples, and onions in a flower-like shape. It’s really more of an art project than it is a recipe—so get creative and don’t overthink it, because it’ll turn out gorgeous no matter what.
All the savory fall ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Butternut Squash Tart with Ricotta:
Frozen Pie Crust
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: unless you love making pastry from scratch (bless you) keep it simple with a store-bought pie crust. Homemade pastry can be fickle. Some crusts are better than others, and especially at Thanksgiving when you might be turning out multiple pies in one day, reliability is the name of the game.
Go with whole milk ricotta here—you need the creaminess and rich flavor that low-fat versions just don’t have. For an alternative, a whipped herbed goat cheese is delish, too.
A classic fall flavor that just screams coziness for me, especially when its kissed with garlic and thyme.
For more earthy, fall flavor. You could also use yukon gold potatoes here, or any other root vegetables like parsnips or beets.
I love the sweetness that the apple lends to this dish. Any really firm red apple works here—I used Gala.
It gets caramelized and so sweet in the oven, and the pop of red adds a gorgeous touch.
Thyme is in both the herbed ricotta and tucked among the vegetables, but you could use other winter herbs like fresh sage or rosemary here, too.
Honey, Red Pepper Flakes, and Olive Oil
A tablespoon of each of these flavor boosters makes those veggies sing.
How to make this Butternut Squash Tart (it’s easy, promise!)
First, bake the pie crust.
Memorize this simple technique for pre-baking a store-bought pie crust with perfect results.
- Thaw the pie crust in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before you’re ready to use.
- Gently drape the crust into the tart pan, then gently press into the pan being careful not to tear it. Use a knife or rolling pin to easily shave all the excess dough off the edges. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 min. Preheat oven to 450.
- Remove from fridge and use a fork to make little pricks all over the dough, then fill with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake on 450 for 10 min. Remove beans, and you’re ready to fill.
Make the filling
Next you’re going to make an herbed ricotta base by mixing whole milk ricotta with thyme, honey, garlic, salt, and black pepper. (I make this same combo and use it all kinds of things, like my eggplant ricotta flatbread.)
Add the vegetable layers
Use your mandolin to thinly slice butternut squash, apple, sweet potato, and red onion, and then it’s time to layer! I like to start on the outer edge and move in concentric circles to the middle. Layer and tuck the vegetables in a flower shape, and don’t overthink it—just have fun.
Drizzle olive oil and honey over the top, and sprinkle over thyme, a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt.
Bake until caramelized and delicious
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the veggies are cooked through and golden brown. I let it cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and eating.
How to make this tart ahead
To save my sanity on Thanksgiving, I try to make as much as possible in advance, and this butternut squash is a perfect make-ahead dish. After removing from the oven, let it cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. When ready to serve, just rewarm for a few minutes in a 350 oven then slice and serve.
By the way, I shared my full Thanksgiving checklist, including down-to-the-minute planning, if you want more tips to stay organized for the feast.
Scroll on for the recipe, and if you make this butternut squash tart, be sure to rate, review, and tag us on Instagram so we can see yours!
- 1 store-bought pie crust, thawed
- 2 tablespoons thyme, divided
- 2 tablespoons honey, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 butternut squash, peeled (neck only—reserve the base for another use)
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 sweet, firm red apple, cored
- 1/4 red onion, peeled
- pinch red pepper flakes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- Thaw the pie crust in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before you're ready to use.
- Gently drape the crust into a tart pan with removable bottom (or you can use a pie dish), then gently press the dough into the pan being careful not to tear it. Use a knife or rolling pin to easily shave all the excess dough off the edges. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 min.
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Remove dough from fridge and use a fork to make little pricks all over the dough, then fill with dried beans or pie weights and blind bake on 450 F for 10 min. Remove beans, and set aside. Turn down oven to 375 F degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine ricotta, and 1 tablespoon each of thyme, honey, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and mix.
- Using a mandolin, thinly slice the neck of the butternut squash (if it's large, cut each circle in half), sweet potato, apple, and red onion.
- Spread the ricotta filling on the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust.
- Then layer the veggies: start on the outer edge and move in concentric circles to the middle. Layer and tuck the vegetables in a flower shape, and don't overthink it—just have fun.
- Drizzle olive oil and remaining honey over the top, and sprinkle over thyme, a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt.
- Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, until veggies are cooked through and golden brown.
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then slice into wedges and eat!
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