Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Crostini with Crispy Shallots

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Crostini with Crispy Shallots

On the outside you're calm and cool, but on the inside you're just a little bit frazzled. Thanks to your careful planning, your Thanksgiving feast is about to come together (almost) seamlessly, at least enough that your guests will be duly impressed.

There are a few last-minute touches that require your attention though, and your guests have just arrived. This is the time to make the gravy, reheat the stuffing and make sure the wine is properly chilled. It's not time to hear about your nephew's basketball team, your best friend's new business venture or grandma's recent trip to Greece.

What do you do? Distract them--with food of course. It's always good to serve a Thanksgiving appetizer, preferably with a good cocktail, so that you, the cook, can be free to complete your meal. These butternut squash crostini foot the bill perfectly, since they can be made mostly ahead of time, requiring just a little last-minute assembly. Crostini are relatively mess-free, require no utensils and are crowd-pleasing. Perfect.

You can make the squash and goat cheese mixture ahead of time and refrigerate it. You can even fry the shallots ahead of time too (make sure they're cool before you refrigerate them). Then toasting the bread just takes a couple minutes and, with a pastry bag, piping the filling onto the toasts is a snap.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Crostini with Crispy Shallots

1 butternut squash
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 French baguette
1 cup canola oil
1 large or 2 smaller shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (thinner than 1/8 inch)
4 oz. soft goat cheese (chevre)
1 large or 2 small shallots
2 tbsp. fresh snipped chives

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Peel squash and cut into cubes no larger than 1-inch. Combine cut squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the hot oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.

3. Preheat oven broiler with rack in top position. But baguette into slices about 1/2-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and brush top of bread slices with olive oil. Broil until lightly browned, which only takes a couple minutes (watch closely so they don't burn). Remove from oven.

4. Heat 1 cup of canola oil a medium skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the shallots and fry into golden-brown, about 10 minutes (may take more or less time, watch to prevent burning). Remove shallots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

5. Microwave the goat cheese for 30 seconds to soften it. Add the cheese and roasted squash to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides after a couple minutes. Transfer squash mixture to a small bowl and stir in the chives. Scoop mixture into pastry bag with a star tip. Pipe squash mixture onto toast rounds. Top with a few crispy shallots.

1 comment:

  1. I shouldn't have read this right before lunch because now I really want to eat your crostini and not the yogurt waiting for me in the fridge.