Pumpkin and Ricotta Byrek | Wine Enthusiast
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Pumpkin and Ricotta Byrek

Recipe courtesy Thomas Lents, executive chef, Sixteen Restaurant, Chicago

Lents serves these Albanian-inspired tarts as a snack to open his decadent fall tasting menu at Sixteen, but they also make a satisfying main course.


1 small pumpkin (about 2 pounds)
1 package puff pastry, thawed
⅓ cup minced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey, plus additional for garnish
¾ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup feta cheese, plus additional for garnish
½ cup cooked spinach or chard, chopped
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350°F. Poke steam holes all over the pumpkin with a sharp knife. Place it in a baking pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife easily slides through. Let the pumpkin cool, then cut in half. Discard the seeds and pulp, and scoop out the flesh.

Unroll the puff pastry. Using a ring cutter, cut into 3-inch circles (if serving as an appetizer), or 7-inch circles (if serving as an entrée). Put the pastry circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until light brown. Add the honey and reduce until sticky. Mix in the pumpkin, mashing coarsely. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and heat through.

Dollop the filling decoratively atop the puff pastry circles (or use a pastry bag, using the largest tip), and garnish with feta, a drizzle of honey and pepper. Serves 24 as an appetizer, or 4 as an entrée.

Pair It

“The perception of bruised red berries and pears in Henriot Brut Rosé Champagne NV plays incredibly well with the ricotta cheese,” says Dan Pilkey, Sixteen’s restaurant director and sommelier. “It drinks mature and with subtle CO2.”

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