Hosting a gathering this holiday season? Whip up this easy-to-make fall appetizer inspired by a recent recipe I stumbled upon from Bon Appétit. I reserved some extra uncooked butternut squash cubes from Tuesday’s Butternut Squash Lasagna blog post in anticipation to today’s recipe. The fluffiness from the ricotta and brightness from the lemon really complement the butternut squash…making this a beautifully balance and easy hors d’oeuvre.
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
Finely grated lemon zest, to taste
Fresh lemon juice
Baguette slices, toasted
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush bread slices with olive oil and toast in the oven for about 7 minutes. While crostinis are in the oven, begin to peel, seed and cut butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Coat squash with olive oil and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper and arrange squash pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Remove crostinis and increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until squash is golden brown and tender (about 20 -25 minutes.) Allow to cool.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium – high heat. Fry sage leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute – until edges begin to curl and leaves begin to turn dark green. Careful not to burn the leaves. Transfer leaves to a paper towel to drain. Begin ricotta mixture by combining cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Spread ricotta mixture on crostini and top with a few cubes of butternut squash. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on bread slice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fried sage leaves.
Over the weekend I spent some time working in the garden with my pops – weeding, picking oranges, checking sugar levels on the wine grapes and harvesting a large batch of heirloom tomatoes.
I absolutely LOVE heirlooms due to their refreshing and sweet flavor and unique colors and shapes. Now what to do with this batch of colorful beauties? Recently I experience a delicious dish from French Blue in St. Helena, California which inspired tonight’s appetizer. They offer this irresistible house made farmers cheese over grilled bread topped with strawberries and tomatoes. It’s to die for. So, that is the inspiration to this Heirloom, Peach and Fresh Mozzarella crostini. Sweet and savory, this is the perfect summertime appetizer.
3 – 4 small / medium heirloom tomatoes (or 1 large one), sliced
1 large peach, thinly sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Baguette of your choice (I used Casa LaBelle Rustic Baguette)
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices and coat with olive oil. Season lightly with salt & pepper and bake them for about 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove crostini’s from the oven and layer with a peach slice, tomato and mozzarella. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Casa LaBelle Bread – Casa LaBelle is a small bakery located in the tiny resort town of Monte Rio in Sonoma County.
Peach, Mozzarella and Sweet Basil – Mike’s Truck Garden (one of my favorite local produce stands)
Heirloom Tomatoes – homegrown and straight from the garden.