A savory take on the classic French dessert of layered puff pastry and custard.
These napoleons perfectly illustrate the expression “you eat with your eyes first.” While flavor is always my top priority, presentation is essential, especially at the restaurant.
This dish is an exercise in contrast—in texture and temperature, yes, but also between cultures.
Spicy ginger and herbaceous za’atar perfume the Japanese breadcrumbs that crust wheels of earthy, hot-from-the-fryer butternut squash, cradling cool layers of tahini and roasted vegetable–enriched hummus.
Butternut Squash Napoleons
- 2 large butternut squash peeled, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds, and seeded
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Hummus of your choice
- Vegetable oil for frying
FOR THE TAHINI POMEGRANATE HOT SAUCE
- 2 cups all-purpose tahini sauce
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons Harissa
FOR THE BREADING
- 4 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper or black pepper mixed with lemon zest (heaping)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano or za’atar
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup all-purpose flour can use gluten-free or cornmeal
- 4 large egg whites beaten
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- Drizzle the squash slices with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil each, followed by an even sprinkling of the pepper, salt, and cumin. Rub to coat well on all sides. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until just tender but not browned. Set aside to cool.
- Make the breading: In a shallow bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the lemon pepper, basil, oregano, ginger, garlic powder, and paprika. Pour the flour into a second shallow bowl and beat the egg whites in a third shallow bowl. Dip the squash slices in the flour and turn to evenly coat, then dip them in the egg white. Finish by coating the squash with the seasoned breadcrumbs, making sure they adhere on all sides.
- Fill a large skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of ½ inch, or fill a deep fryer to a depth that will submerge the squash slices fully. Heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, fry the squash for 3 minutes on each side, until softened and golden brown all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove the squash from the oil and set on paper towels to drain.
- Alternatively, to bake instead of frying, lightly coat the breadcrumb crust with cooking spray or oil, and cook in a 375ºF oven until golden and tender, about 30 minutes.
- To make the tahini pomegranate hot sauce, whisk all ingredients together.
- Assemble the napoleons: Top one squash slice with a generous scoop of hummus and a drizzle of tahini pomegranate hot sauce, top with a second squash slice, and finish with tahini sauce. Repeat with the remaining squash slices and serve immediately.