From September onwards, you can see them appearing on porches and garden tables: little decorative squashes, announcing the start of fall. Varying from smooth and pale white to striped and knobbly, these flying saucer shaped pattypan squashes or button squashes are sold everywhere in Holland as seasonal decoration. When I picked up my girl at a school friend’s the other day and made an innocent remark to her parent about the nice-looking squashes in his front yard, he graciously handed me one, telling me, to my surprise, he harvested a glut of them at his allotment that morning and they were perfect for eating now.
As it turns out, when these little Cucurbitae are harvested before they are completely ripe, they are juicy and tender and can be prepared much like their family member courgette. Small ones can be prepared whole, by braising, steaming, roasting or even pickling them. Larger ones can be prepared in the same way, cut into chunks or large slices, or they can be served whole, hollowed out and stuffed. Since their flavour is mild and neutral, they pair well with almost any kind of stuffing you can come up with.
The squash handed to me was medium-sized and of a vibrant yellow colour. After opening, it seemed to be emitting all the sunlight we have been treated to these recent summer days and the only right thing to do was to highlight its looks in a fresh summery tart.
I love tarts, quiches and the crumbly pastry that comes with them. Up till now, Maaike and I posted several recipes using classic shortcrust pastry made with butter and wheat flour. For this tart, I’ve been experimenting with different gluten free shortcrust options. I served two trial versions to my family and I’m very pleased with the result! My husband and girls were enthusiastic about both versions – which is a good start! – and each liked a different one best, depending on their individual tastes.
The gluten free pastry made with wholegrain rice, buckwheat and quinoa flour was lovely and crumbly, with a deep, warm flavour pairing wonderfully with the fresh vegetables and the savoury basil ricotta filling. As I’m very fond of the nutty flavour of quinoa, this was my personal favourite.
The pastry made with rice and almond flour had a more neutral and slightly sweet flavour. The case was a bit more firm and crunchy than the quinoa one. Being made with rapeseed oil, it’s vegan, which isn’t of much consequence in this particular tart with its dairy filling, but it might be a good option if you’re planning to make another quiche or tart that’s meant to be vegan.
And then, of course, if you’re interested in making this tart and you just love classic shortcrust pastry, by all means, use that! Below you’ll find the recipe with links to the three different shortcrust recipes. If you can’t get hold of the mentioned pattypan squash, a yellow courgette will give the same cheerful contrasting colours effect.
I hope you’ll enjoy it and I’m curious which version you prefer!
Fresh pattypan squash and courgette tart with basil ricotta – serves 4
- 1 portion of gluten free buckwheat and quinoa shortcrust pastry, gluten free almond shortcrust pastry or classic butter and flour shortcrust pastry
- 200 g cottage cheese
- 250 g ricotta
- 1 egg, whisked
- zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 15 g fresh basil, shredded
- 40 g Parmesan, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium pattypan squash, halved and seeds removed. You will probably just need half of it; you could keep the other half for roasting, stewing or soup making. If you can’t get hold of the squash, a yellow courgette works fine as well.
- 1 green courgette
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to sprinkle
- 10 g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.
Spoon the cottage cheese into a sieve, put it over a bowl and leave the cheese to drain while you prepare the pastry case.
Brush a Ø 26 cm round tart tin with sunflower oil and dust it with (rice) flour. Lightly knead the pastry dough, shape it into a ball and place it onto a floured sheet of baking parchment. Flatten the ball a little, then cover it with a second parchment sheet. Roll out the dough until it’s a circle a few cm larger than the tin and about ½ cm thick.
Line the tin with the pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork to prevent it forming air bubbles. Cover the pastry case with one of the sheets of baking parchment and weigh it down with baking beans or dried rice. Blind bake the case for 10-12 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans and leave to cool a little.
Raise the oven temperature to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.
In a bowl, mix the drained cottage cheese with the ricotta and the whisked egg. Stir through the lemon zest, basil and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the cheese mixture over the bottom of the pastry case.
Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, thinly slice the squash and the courgette. Working inwards from the pastry edges, arrange the slices over the ricotta until all of it is covered with a spiralling pattern in alternating colours. Brush the top with the olive oil, then bake for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the tart with sea salt and black pepper and garnish with the flat leaf parsley.
Serve it warm, with a green salad on the side.