The other day I was trying to think of a seasonal alternative to traditional tomato bruschetta. Tomatoes out of season are bland and downright sad, but butternut squash seemed like the perfect replacement. Diced, sauteed, and placed upon a Chevre smeared crostini, they make bright and colorful seasonal hors d'oeuvres. A drizzle of balsamic and crispy sage leaves tops them off. I made these bruschetta the other night at our Oscar party and they were a big hit.
This was the first year in a long while that I've seen all of the Oscar nominated pictures. Even with my invested interest, award ceremonies can sometimes be a bit boring. Nevertheless, it was a good excuse to get together with friends to eat, drink, and be merry! Even our dog Lady snuck in a few licks of booze, much to the surprise of one of our guests. Let's face it, there's no denying she's a booze hound.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH BRUSCHETTA
1 baguette, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch thick slices
1- 2 1/2 to 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch sage
8 oz. chevre
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crostini, brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or until golden brown), flipping the slices halfway through cooking time. Set aside to cool.
While the crostini are baking, coat the bottom of a 10 to 12-inch saute pan with olive oil, add the butternut squash, a sprinkle of salt, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often. In the last minute of cooking, add the garlic (you may need to saute the squash in two batches). Remove from heat and transfer to a medium size bowl to cool. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Wash the sage and separate the leaves from the stems. Use paper towels to thoroughly pat the leaves dry. In a small saute pan, heat equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil over medium-high heat, enough to fill the pan by 1/4-inch. Add a few sage leaves and cook until the sizzling stops and the leaves are crisp (adjust heat to avoid smoking). Use tongs to gently transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Continue in the same manner until all the leaves are cooked.
To assemble, spread a thin layer of chevre on each crostini. Spoon on the butternut squash and drizzle with balsamic. Gently place a sage leaf on each crostini. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: About 40 bruschetta
- If you have any leftover squash, stir it into wild rice or bulgur wheat for a delicious side dish.