Monday, November 20, 2017

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Burekas

This is a seasonal twist on classic burekas that I wrote up for alma. (check out their site for the full article). The caramelized onions are the key ingredient in this dish; they always take longer than you think to caramelize, but the resulting flavor is worth the work. This makes a great side, appetizer, or snack during the holidays.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Burekas
Makes 24 burekas

2 sheets puff pastry (10” x 15”), defrosted in the refrigerator overnight
1½ lbs. butternut squash (1 large squash), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 large yellow onion, medium diced
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 big fat clove of garlic or 2 medium-sized, minced fine
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg yolk
Black and/or white sesame seeds, to garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Drizzle the halved butternut squash with oil, then place it cut-side down on a sheet pan. You don’t need to peel the squash. Roast until the squash is fully cooked and tender, about 35-45 minutes.

  3. While the squash is baking, caramelize your onion by putting a few tablespoons of butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium low heat. If keeping the dish non-dairy, use just olive oil. Add the diced onion to the pan, and sauté over low or medium low heat until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of salt and then continue to let the onion cook and caramelize, stirring occasionally so the onion doesn’t burn; make sure to keep the heat fairly low. This is where patience comes in, beautiful caramelized onions can take 30-45 minutes to make. You want your onions golden and sweet, you don’t need to caramelize them until they’re a deep brown. This is a good tutorial if you need it.
  4. Add the minced garlic to the caramelized onions, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant but not at all browned. Turn off the heat.
  5. Once the squash is cooked and slightly cooled, scoop the inside of the squash into a bowl and discard the peel. Add the caramelized onion to the squash. Mix together. The mixture should be soft and not too lumpy.
  6. Mix in the ground coriander, thyme, and cayenne. Taste, and then season with salt and pepper as desired. Allow the squash mixture to cool before assembling the burekas. You can make this filling up to two days in advance and store in the fridge.
  7. To assemble the burekas: roll out a sheet of puff pastry until rectangular and just slightly thinner than when it comes out of the package. Divide the dough into 12 squares: cut the dough in half widthwise, and then cut each half into half again. Next, cut the dough into thirds lengthwise. Put a spoonful of the filling into each square. Fold over the dough to form a triangle shape, and press the edges together. There’s no need to crimp or press too hard, the filling will stay put, and you want to ensure there are layers of flaky pastry.
  8. Transfer the formed triangular burekas onto a baking sheet, place each bureka about an inch apart, 12 will fit on each baking sheet. At this point, you can freeze the burekas and reserve them for when you’re ready to bake.
  9. Before baking, combine the large egg yolk with a small splash of water. Beat well. Brush the tops of the burekas with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky. Transfer to a wire baking rack, and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Burekas are best served warm or at room temperature.