Looking for the perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving entrée? This roasted butternut squash and goat cheese phyllo pie is it. It stunning to look at, making it an ideal replacement for the usual roast turkey, and it’s also crazy delicious. It’s easy to make too!
One of the questions we get asked most often at our book events for The Lazy Gourmet is, “Do you have any vegetarian dishes in the book?” The answer, fortunately, is “Yes! Lots!” Neither of us are vegetarian, but neither of us eat a whole lot of meat, either. Flexitarians, you might call us. So filling the book with vegetarian-friendly dishes wasn’t a huge stretch for us. But finding vegetarian Thanksgiving entrees that really stand up to that starring role is always a challenge.
Wondering What to Serve for Your Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner?
This phyllo-wrapped “pie” is filled with roasted butternut squash and a combination of flavorful cheeses and herbs. I promise you that it is impressive enough to fill the central role of a Thanksgiving meal. Baked in a Bundt pan, it is spectacular to look at. And because it is a bundle of savory, cheesy, herby deliciousness wrapped in crunchy paper-thin layers of buttery phyllo dough, it is obviously delicious to eat. In short, it’s completely irresistible.
This recipe was inspired by a phyllo-and-cheese torte from Melissa Clark’s New York Times column. My version is considerably lighter. It’s fortified with roasted squash and has less cheese and only one stick of butter rather than three (!), but don’t worry, it’s still plenty buttery. I chose a combination of fresh goat, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses, fresh sage, and a dash of cayenne for a little kickd, and..
But is this vegetarian entrée easy to make?
It is really easy to make. You don’t even have to stand around buttering layer after layer of phyllo one sheet at a time. Instead, you just pour melted butter over the whole thing at the end, letting it soak through the layers as it bakes.
The original recipe included feta, Romano, and cottage cheeses and dill. I wanted something a touch lighter, and with some veggies baked right in. Here I substitute sweet roasted squash for some of the cheese. Sage stands in for the dill, and a touch of cayenne adds a little kick. I reduced the butter from Clark’s three sticks (!) to one. I’ve never tried the original version, but my version is delightfully buttery.
Cast this dish in a starring role at your Thanksgiving dinner (or serve it as a side) and it’s likely to earn a standing ovation from vegetarians, flexitarians, and meat-eaters alike.
- 2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼–1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1-pound box phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator, if necessary*
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400º F.
- On a large baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon of salt.
- Roast in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft. Set aside to cool. (this step can be done a day ahead. Store the roasted squash, covered, in the refrigerator, until ready to use).
- Reduce oven heat to 375ºF.
- In a large bowl, combine goat cheese, ricotta, eggs, sage, Parmesan, cayenne, pepper, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir in the roasted butternut squash.
- Drizzle a bit of the butter into the Bundt pan and tilt a few times to spread it around a little. Layer the sheets of phyllo into the Bundt pan, pushing it into the well and poking holes in the middle where the center tube comes up, and letting the dough hang over the sides. Line the pan in this fashion, layering the phyllo sheets in a criss-cross pattern, until you have used up all the sheets (it may seem like too much, but don’t worry about it, it’s not!)
- Spoon the goat cheese mixture into the phyllo-lined pan, using a rubber spatula to distribute it evenly.
- Fold the phyllo dough over the filling and then poke several holes, using a sharp knife, going all the way down to the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the melted butter over the top and drizzle it down into the sides if you can. If the butter pools on top, simply tilt the pan around a bit to encourage it to seep down into the torte.
- Bake the torte in the preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a rack for about an hour.
- To serve, poke a knife around the edges of the torte inside the pan to make sure it is not stuck and then carefully invert it onto a platter. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.
• To make this easy, I use the pre-diced butternut squash from Trader Joe's. You can also find this type of prepped squash in supermarkets like Safeway these days.
• If you are starting with a whole butternut squash, microwave it for several minutes before trying to cut into it--this will soften up the peel and make it much easier.
Amount Per Serving Calories 493 Total Fat 31g Saturated Fat 16g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 13g Cholesterol 116mg Sodium 785mg Carbohydrates 37g Fiber 5g Sugar 2g Protein 18g