They make butternut squash so handy to use nowadays. No need to ignore the yellow vegetable that looks and feels like a gourd. I got a two-pound bag at Trader Joe’s already peeled and chopped, leaving me no further excuse to ignore a recipe I’d been meaning to try. This recipe is not only a good appetizer, it also makes a dandy open-faced sandwich for any meal. The recipe for Butternut Squash Toast showed up in the New York Times recently. It’s surprisingly easy to make.
This toast recipe works best if you have something else to do in the kitchen. The squash takes 25 minutes of roasting in the oven. But while waiting you can simmer the onion slivers in a skillet until they’re dark, soft and jammy. It could take nearly an hour, depending on the heat and water content of the onions. But whatever you do, don’t forget the fresh mint topping; it makes a difference. Below is the recipe from ABC Kitchen’s in New York.
Butternut Squash Toast with Ricotta and Mint
- 3-lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes, more to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 large loaf of Pugliese, or smaller, thick slices country bread
- 1 heaping cup ricotta cheese
- Flaky salt, for finishing
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- Dump the squash into a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, add a 1/4 cup of olive oil, the chile flakes, and a hefty, 3-finger pinch of salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and cover it. Cook until the squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, lifting the lid occasionally to stir. (As per Amanda Hesser’s method, the idea is that the squash quickly sauté and steam.) Adjust the heat if necessary so the squash doesn’t burn. (Alternatively, you can roast your squash at 425° F until tender.)
- While the squash is cooking, make the onion jam: In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat, and add the onions, stirring, and cook until they begin to soften and darken, about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and syrup, and reduce until everything is jammy. Depending on the surface area of your pan, this could take as little as 15 minutes or as long as 30. When it looks as though it’s ready to be spread on toast and it tastes tart-sweet, it’s ready.
- Add the onion mixture to the cooked squash, stirring gently so as to preserve a few chunks of squash. Taste, and season with salt or more chile if needed — the mixture should have a nice heat.
- Cut your loaf of bread in half along its equator, and lightly toast the bottom half. (If you’re using smaller slices, don’t worry about this step!) Save the top for all manner of things: breadcrumbs, croutons, cheese…
- Spread a thick layer of ricotta on the bread, and then the same of the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of flaky salt and a bit of olive oil, then scatter the chopped mint on top. (Recipe from ABC Kitchens, New York) Serves 4-6.