acorn squash

Squash Toast

I would like to think I am not like all the other 20 something year old years, except for my taste in television shows. I have to admit I love the show The Bachelor. The drama, the unrealistic dates, the sappy proposal speeches, you just can't not get hooked! Why am I bringing this up? Well my sister, my best friend and I have Bachelor Mondays where we each take turns hosting the group for dinner and of course The Bachelor viewing. For the shows big finale, my best friend Rebecca had one wish, and that was for me to recreate her favorite appetizer from one of the best restaurants in NYC. Lucky for her, her best friend (me) is a chef, so helloooo challenge accepted and dominated, but of course I had to put my own "Got Room For More" spin on it.  I changed up the type of squash and added the beautiful nutty crunch of the toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Well lets just say I totally got the rose that night...and so did Lauren B (who we were rooting for since day 1). You go girl! Now what to do until The Bachelorette starts..sigh. We cannot wait to cheer on JoJo the newly elected Bachelorette while we stuff our faces and cry about how we don't look as good in a bikini.

Ingredients-

  1. 1  2 1/2- to 3-pound Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash or kabocha, peeled, seeded and diced into 3/4 inch pieces  (NOTE: I use one acorn squash and 1 small butternut squash. I find the blend is very nice)
  2. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the bread
  3. ½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
  4. 1 Tablespoon Honey (I like a nice wildflower honey)
  5. 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  6. 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  7. ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  8. ¼ cup maple syrup
  9. 4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick ( I prefer Puglisi bread or ciabata
  10. ½ cup fresh, creamy ricotta cheese
  11.  Coarse salt & Ground black pepper to taste
  12. 4 tablespoons chopped mint
  13. 3-4 Tablespoons of toasted, hulled Pumpkin Seeds

Steps-

 

  1. Heat the oven to 450F. Combine the squash, 1/4 cup olive oil, chile flakes, honey and 2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and toss well. Transfer the mixture to a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until tender and slightly colored, about 20-25 minutes or a little longer. You want the squash to be fork tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven.
  2. Meanwhile, heat another 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and darkening, at least 20 minutes.Add the vinegar and syrup, stir and reduce until syrupy and broken down, again at least 15-20 minutes or so. You want it to be a nice caramelized, cohesive mixture that has a jam like texture. 
  3. Combine squash and onions in a bowl and smash with a fork until combined. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Drizzle some olive oil onto a baking sheet. Place slices of the bread onto the baking sheet. Drizzle the tops of the bread with more olive oil.  Sprinkle the bread with some ground black pepper. Toast in the oven on 400F until the bread is toasted and slightly golden, but not too toasted where it is very hard to eat. (but please toast to your liking! My grandfather likes it burnt..I mean completely burnt ;) )
  5. Spread the ricotta cheese on toasts, then top with the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with a small pinch of coarse salt, a little bit of the toasted pumpkin seeds and finally the fresh mint.

Acorn Squash with Apple, Sage Cream & Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

It is that time of year again! Thanksgiving is just 10 days away! Everybody knows that the turkey is just a showpiece, we all really look forward to the side dishes! Acorn squash is the perfect Thanksgiving side because everyone gets their own little "cup" of sweet and savory goodness. This recipe is beautiful and will surely take your Thanksgiving dinner Instagram pic to the next level. The squash is rich and slightly sweet with the addition of the dark brown sugar, and then the sage yogurt cream gives it this perfect tangy flavor that cuts through the sweetness, the apples give it a nice juicy freshness and finally we top it all off with spicy toasted pumpkin seeds which give this dish the most satisfying crunch. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Ingredients-

  1. Acorn Squash- 1 half per person
  2. Dark Brown Sugar (1 Tablespoons per half)
  3. Salted Butter (1 Tablespoon per half of squash)
  4. salt and black pepper
  5. Dash of Cinnamon per squash
  6. Dash of Nutmeg per squash
  7. Pinch of Clove per squash
  8. Olive Oil to baste the squash before baking
  9. 1-2 Apples shredded on a mandolin or cut into a fine julienne (I like honey crisp apples but granny smith or macintosh are great too
  10. Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (recipe below)
  11. Sage Cream (recipe below)

Pumpkin Seeds-

 

  1. 1/3 Cup light brown sugar
  2. 2 cups pumpkin seeds shelled
  3. 1 large egg white
  4. 1teaspoon cinnamon
  5. ¼ Teaspooon Ground Ginger
  6. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  7. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  8. a few dashes of cayenne pepper (if you like spicy you can add ¼-1/2 teaspoon)

Sage Cream-

  1. 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat to cut calories)
  2. 6-8 Fresh Sage Leaves
  3. 1 Teaspoon Honey
  4. Small Pinch of salt and pepper

Steps-

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds-

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Stir together all the ingredients.
  3. Spread the seeds out on a parchment paper lined sheet pan in one layer.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed up slightly and brown. Keep an eye on them because they can burn easily. Remove from the oven and stir them up a bit then pop them back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool and dry out . Sprinkle with a little extra salt if needed.

Sage Cream-

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend together the yogurt, sage leaves, honey, tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until the sage is nicely chopped up and incorporated into the yogurt.  If it is too thick to blend add a drop of water.
  2. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Acorn Squash-

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. Cut the Squashes in half horizontally. Scoop out the seeds and discard.
  3. Place the squash halves on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle the insides of the squash with some olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle each squash half with salt and pepper, a dash of nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, and a nice sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
  5. Bake the squash for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and top each squash half with 1 tablespoon of the salted butter and 1 Tablespoon of Dark Brown Sugar and place back in the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes then remove and baste the squash with the melted butter and brown sugar from the center of the squash. Bake another 10-15 minutes  or  so, until the squash is fork tender.  Remove from the oven.

**To assemble- Top each acorn squash half with some shredded apple, a nice dollop of sage cream and then finish it off with some spiced pumpkin seeds.