1 2-3 lb. kabocha squash, halved and seeded
1 2-3 lb. butternut squash, halved, seeded and sliced crosswise 1.5 inches thick
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; more for the baking sheet and pan
5 Cups homemade or store-bought vegetable broth
2.5 Cups coarse cornmeal polenta, such as Bob's Red Mill
2.25 lb. red onions, quartered, and thinly sliced crosswise
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
.5 tsp smoked hot Spanish paprika
2 Tbsp sweet sherry or Marsala
8 oz. grated Manchego cheese or sharp white Cheddar (approx. 3.5 cups)
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
2. Roast the squash cut side down on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet until tender, 45 to 50 minutes (if using butternut, roast cut side down in a single layer, flipping halfway through). Scoop the flesh from the skins and mash it with a potato masher. You’ll need 2 cups for the torta; save any extra for another use.
3. Bring the broth and 1 quart water to a boil in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Slowly pour in the polenta, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the polenta begins to thicken, 1 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is tender and no longer gritty, about 40 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the thyme and paprika, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are reduced to about a third of their original volume and look like jam, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to medium high, and add the sherry. Cook, stirring often, until the sherry is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Set aside off the heat.
5. Stir three-quarters of the cheese into the polenta until melted. Stir in the 2 cups mashed squash. Season to taste with salt.
6. Oil a 10-inch springform pan. While the polenta is still hot and soft, spoon half of it into the pan and spread it evenly. Spread the onion marmalade over the polenta in an even layer right out to the edge. Spoon the remaining polenta over the onions, spread it evenly, and score the top lightly with a fork—it will look like corduroy. Chill the torta on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator until very firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. The onion marmalade may leak a bit, but that’s OK.
BAKE THE TORTA
7. Heat the oven to 350°F.
8. Run a knife along the inside of the springform pan to loosen the torta. Remove the side of the springform pan and use two large spatulas to carefully transfer the torta to an ovenproof serving plate. Bake until hot throughout, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until it melts, 8 to 10 minutes.
9. To serve, carefully and gently cut the torta into wedges. The torta is soft when hot, but it will hold its shape if you handle it gently.
recipe credit: www.finecooking.com