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Playing Impress Tday Guests With Butternut Squash Crostata

With Thanksgiving a week away, getting a head start on prep is never a bad idea. "Top Chef" judge Gail Simmons shares her go-to dough for both sweet and savory recipes. You can make it ahead (she suggests preparing a double batch!) and freeze it in disk form, tightly wrapped, for up to three months. Here, she tops the rolled-out dough with seasoned ricotta, butternut squash, celery root and caramelized fennel for a beautiful and tasty appetizer, side dish or vegetarian main course. The crostata can be baked up to three hours in advance and rewarmed just before serving. 

For more make-ahead holiday recipes, check out this Cheesy Potato Casserole and Freezer Stuffing


For the Dough
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Filling:
  • 1 small bulb fennel, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta

  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely grated

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for sprinkling

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano, plus leaves for sprinkling

  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus leaves for sprinkling

  • ½ pound butternut squash, seeded, peeled and shaved into ribbons

  • ½ pound celery root, peeled and shaved into ribbons 
(Gail recommends using a mandolin or Y peeler)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 teaspoons honey, warmed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


Serves: 6 to 8


For the dough, in a food processor, combine both flours with the salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size pieces form. Add the sour cream, ice water and lemon juice and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface, gather any crumbs and knead until smooth. Pat into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

For the filling, in a small bowl, toss the fennel with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallot, season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove the shallot to a small bowl and allow to cool. In the same skillet, add the fennel and cook until slightly softened and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside.   

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with the lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon minced oregano and ½ teaspoon minced rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the celery root and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 
a 13-inch round. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the ricotta mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Pile the squash mixture on the ricotta, then scatter the caramelized fennel on top and top with the shallots. Fold 1 ½ inches of the dough edge over the vegetables. Sprinkle with more thyme, oregano and rosemary leaves. Brush the dough edge with the beaten egg.   

Bake the crostada for 15 minutes, until it starts to brown. Sprinkle the Parmigiano over the filling and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until the vegetables are tender and the crust is golden.  

In a small bowl, mix the honey with the lemon juice and red pepper flakes (if using). Drizzle the honey mixture over the crostada just before serving.