October 26, 2010

Winter Squash, Leek, and Goat Cheese Turnovers

Butternut Squash, Leek, and Goat cheese turnover

Winter squash taste like fall to me.  Like cool sunny days dappled with brightly colored leaves, like crisp nights brightly lit by the moon. Like empty tree branches scratching the sky. It tastes like winter, too. Dark evenings in the kitchen and clouds of breath in the freezing air. I cook squash fairly often, it makes for a hearty vegetarian meal with so many variations and possibilities, both sweet and savory. I realize that I have featured it quite a lot here. But I can't resist sharing another recipe and I can't promise that this will be the last.

I've been working more evenings at my restaurant job which means that I am not around to cook dinner. These turnovers are a flavorful meal we can pull out of the freezer and make for dinner without much trouble. There are several steps involved in making them, but you can freeze them before baking and pop one in the oven whenever you want. The result is an elegant combination of flavors that is worthy of so much more than an easy weeknight meal. These turnovers make a substantial vegetarian main course. They are both simple and out of the ordinary and would work just as well for an on the go meal as for a sit down dinner party.

As I am writing this, the wind is whipping the leafless tree branches and the rain that is coming down feels like it could almost be snow. I am glad to have a meal that warms me twice: first preparing the turnovers and, later, enjoying one on a plate.

Squash Leek and Goat Cheese Turnovers
The idea for this recipe came from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville. I based the dough on the gallette recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone it is a very buttery dough which makes it so flaky and flavorful. If you are serving several people, you could also roll out the dough into a big circle, place the fillings in the middle and fold the dough around it to make a beautiful gallette. Makes 5 turnovers.

For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (about 3 cups) butternut or buttercup squash, cubed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, thinly sliced to about 2 inches from the leaves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
5 ounces soft goat cheese 

For the pastry:
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
1/3-1/2 cup water

Mix the flours and salt in a bowl. Add the pieces of butter and cut into the flour, using a pastry blender, utensils or your fingers, until the butter is in very small pieces and evenly distributed in the flour. Pour in a small amount of the water and toss with the flour to evenly mix. Add just enough water so that the dough comes together in a ball without any leftover flour. Press the dough into a flat disc and cover with parchment paper. Leave the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

In a baking dish, toss the cubed squash with the garlic, sage and one tablespoon of the oil. Bake at 350' for about 20 minutes or until the squash is soft, but not mushy. While the squash cooks, heat the rest of the oil in a skillet on the stove. Add the leeks and stir for a couple of minutes. Cover and let the leeks steam until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. When the squash is done, toss it with the cooked leeks and add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the turnovers, divide the dough into five equal pieces. On a piece of parchment or waxed paper, roll out the dough (turning it over frequently to make sure it doesn't stick) into a circle or oval, about 6-8 inches in diameter. On one half of the round of dough, place 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the squash and leek mixture and add a couple of tablespoons of the goat cheese (or as much or little as you like). Make sure to leave an edge of dough around the filling and fold the empty half of the rolled out dough over the filling. Carefully press the folded over top onto the bottom half of the dough and crimp the edge to keep it closed. Pierce a few small holes in the top of the turnover to let out steam when it cooks. 

If baking immediately, place on a baking sheet in a 350' oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before eating. If freezing, place each turnover on a sheet pan and freeze. Once they are frozen you can store them in an airtight container for a week or two before using. If baking from frozen, they will take 30-40 minutes.


  1. This sounds lovely. Most of our leaves are on their way to the ground thanks to the rainstorm overnight. Supposedly it'll be in the 50s for much of the weekend--these turnovers will be perfect for that weather!

  2. I love the photo. The turnover is beautiful. And I love the flavors you chose. Gorgeous!

  3. This sounds wonderful. I wonder if I can still get my hands on some leeks at the winter farmers market. I'm going to try ;)