Tuesday, December 3, 2013

squash butter crostini with blue cheese, celery & bacon


photo via jonathan canlas

We’d recently gotten a butternut squash in our bi-weekly produce box. My plan was to make a soup like I’d always done every fall, every year. I wanted to try something a little different though…same flavors, a few surprises and an easy appetizer to put together for a party. So I switched things around a bit. Blue cheese and butternut squash are meant to be so that went into the squash puree. The crouton moved to center stage and reinvented itself as the crostini. And the celery came on board to add the splash of color and a textural element this little bite needed. So this holiday season, surprise your friends and loved ones with this unexpected twist on a seasonal classic.

squash butter crostini with blue cheese, bacon & celery
serves 8-10

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 8 cups)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1-2 oz blue cheese (depending on how much you like blue cheese)
2 T butter
6 oz bacon, cut into ½ inch strips
½ cup celery heart, sliced thinly
1 baguette cut into 1 inch slices (mine yielded 36 pieces)
extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for toasting the bread
handful of parsley, chopped fine for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make sure all of the squash is coated in the oil. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the squash start to brown. Set aside.

While the squash is cooking, start the bacon in a cold pan. Cook on medium high heat for 7-10 minutes until bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove bacon from the pan and set aside. (I like to have bacon grease on hand so I save it in the fridge for other recipes instead of throwing it out.)

In a food processor, combine roasted squash, blue cheese and butter. Process till smooth. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed. Set aside.

Place the slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil on high for 3-5 minutes until toasted.

To assemble the crostini, spread each piece of toasted bread with about a tablespoon of the squash mixture. Top with a bit of bacon, then garnish with the celery and parsley.

The pre-cut butternut squash found in grocery stores during the holiday season are a great time saver if you want to spend a few extra bucks.

You may end up with some extra squash mixture when all is said and done. It would make a great and easy soup by adding a cup or so of chicken stock.

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