Butternut Squash & Ricotta Crostini

Ever since sharing my balsamic onion crostini a few weeks ago, I’ve felt a void. In this season of potlucks, I just gave up my most prized possession! Could I risk someone else making my dish to the school potluck holiday dinner? And then… then… Marc Bittman heard my mental anguish.

You remember how Ross made a laminated card with his 5 dream women on “Friends”? What? You don’t remember “Friends”? You might be too young to read this blog post. Kindly refer to reruns on Nick or your local WB channel. Well, Mark Bittman is one of the names on my laminated card. My affair with Mr. Bittman is rather one sided, as I follow his culinary adventures through the New York Times and he doesn’t know that I exist.

Mr. Bittman, similar to Alton Brown, has never let me down in the kitchen. Sure, we might not agree on some things… but overall, I roughly follow his instructions and everyone comes out happy! This fall he presented a crostini recipe from Jean-George Vongerichten. Jean-George!!!  While Mr. Vongerichten isn’t on my laminated card, it’s entirely possible that version 2.0 of my laminated card will include him.  (Play your cards right, JG!)  

A recipe from TWO stellar culinary beings?  A recipe that was perfect for a potluck? A fantastic replacement of my balsamic onion crostini?  Oh yes!  Buttery, smooth and slightly chunky, with a slight kick of spice at the end of the bite, this crostini is worthy of ANY dinner party! 

Peeling butternut squash is a chore.
Use help from the store and get it precut!
I cut the butternut quash into rounds and then cut the peel off.
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp chili flakes and 2 tsps of kosher salt
Toss the butternut squash with the oil, chili flakes and salt
Pour onto baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes,
using a spatula to turn once or twice
The roasted squash will be slightly browned and very soft
Small dice a regular onion
(I had 3/4 of a behemouth onion from yesterday, so I used that)
Saute onions in 1/4 cup of olive oil

Saute onion on medium/high heat for about 15 minutes,
until the onions are gloriously browned
Measure out 1/4 cup each of apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
I  measure both in one cup (loathe washing extra dishes!!)
Add vinegar and maple syrup to onions and reduce until “jammy”, about 10-15 minutes.
Jammy onions!
Add butternut squash and combine.
Squish a little, while still leaving some cubes intact.
Top baguette slices with ricotta and butternut squash mixture.
Top with a sprinkle of kosher salt and mint.


Butternut Squash, Ricotta Crostini 

Adapted from The New York Times

TOTAL TIME: About an hour

Ingredients

1 2 1/2- to 3 butternut squash: peeled, seeded and cut into pieces 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, more to taste
3 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 baguette, sliced on a bias 1/2 thick
1/2 cup ricotta, goat cheese, feta or mascarpone
Coarse salt
4 tablespoons chopped mint


Directions

1.Heat the oven to 450. Combine the squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, chili flakes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and toss well. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and cook, stirring once or twice, until tender and slightly colored, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from the oven.
2.Meanwhile, heat another 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onions and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well softened and darkening, at least 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and syrup, stir and reduce until syrupy and broken down, again at least 15 minutes or so; the mixture should be jammy.
3.Combine squash and onions in a bowl and smash with a fork until combined. Taste for seasoning.
4. Optional: Add the remaining oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add bread and cook until just golden on both sides, less than 10 minutes total; drain on paper towels. (You can also dry the crostini out in the oven for a few minutes.)
5. Spread cheese on toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. 
6. Sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with mint.

Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!

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