A free form savory tart

As I anticipated the end-of-the-fall-session gathering of my weekly French class, I considered what I should bring as a contribution to the fête. I was in the mood for something savory - it just seemed right for this time of year.

I had puff pastry in my freezer so out it came to thaw.  I then embarked on the course of creating a free form puff pastry base.

The beauty of this approach is that you can create any shape or size to fit your mood as well as the number of people you plan to serve.

In my case I planned to cut the finished product into appetizer size portions, so I made a simple rectangle of about 4" x 8" and had plenty of dough to cut narrow strips, braid them and create a lovely border look.

I had autumn veggies on the brain and recalled the vol-au-vent filled with a mix of roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion and goat cheese from a puff pastry class I taught at the Grand Rapids downtown market last fall.  Yes, that's it!

First I baked the puff base solo (425º for about 20 minutes) and set it aside while preparing the filling.  The center puffs up quite a bit, but I simply push it down gently to allow some space for the filling.

NOTE:  this approach is best when using a filling that will already be cooked through since the whole thing will just require warming up once assembled.

I tossed a couple of cups of chunked butternut squash with some olive oil, rosemary, herbes de provence, salt and pepper and roasted them at 450º for about 25 minutes.

I mixed the caramelized onion I had prepared earlier with the squash, piled it onto the baked puff, topped it with crumbled goat cheese and popped it into a 350º oven for about 15 minutes just to warm the whole thing up.

As a final garnish, some roasted pepitas and toasted walnut pieces went on top.

The end result was a delicious combo of buttery, flaky puff and herbed veggie filling with the added crunch of pumpkin seeds and nuts.

Yes - a lovely fall treat.

So put your thinking cap on and imagine of all the wonderful combos you can create!