So, it’s November. A fact of reality that I’m still struggling to realize is true. And this means we’re 21 days from Thanksgiving, 48 days from Christmas, and approximately 79 days away from my due date.
Anyone else out there hyperventilating into a paper bag at this point?
Last November, we did a little series called Thanksgiving Thursdays each week leading up to Thanksgiving, with recipes that were some new takes on old favorites. We’re back at it again, but this time, we’re focusing on appetizers. Because really – isn’t that the worst part of Thanksgiving? All day long, you’re smelling that turkey, and you’re starving. And personally, with the appetite this baby inside of me has, I know that 18 handfuls of peanut M&Ms are not going to cut it this year. So I’ll be sharing three Thanksgiving-worthy appetizer ideas with you (which could also be served as fabulous sides to that noble bird)…and today, we’re starting wtih this butternut squash bruschetta.
A few years ago, we had dinner at the wonderful-but-now-extinct In Season restaurant here in Minneapolis. Our meal started with a flatbread that was topped with squash, candied bacon, and some kind of cheese; needless to say, I really had a hard time sharing any of it.
So, when I started thinking about a squash-based bruschetta, I had the flavors in mind. I knew bacon was a must – but I didn’t want it candied because butternut squash is already so sweet. When I thought about the cheese, I wanted some smokiness, and after an excessively long time at the cheese counter, I settled on gruyere.
I could think of nothing better than fresh sage to round out the flavor of these little bites of fall. And then, as we recipe tested, I came to the conclusion that these benefited from just a touch of apple cider vinegar – just a little acidity, right? Eric totally disagreed, saying that my pregnant taste buds are out of whack. So I’ll leave the addition of the vinegar up to your taste buds – pregnant or not.
I feel like these little bruschetta bites would be perfect to munch on as you wait for your turukey to be done – with that turkey aroma wafting all around. Beats the smell of breathing into a paper bag, right?
(recipe by Carpé Season)
(yields app. 30 bruschetta servings)
This butternut squash bruschetta yields a lot of flavor from smokey gruyere, bacon, and sage! A perfect appetizer for your Thanksgiving feast!
one 2-3 lb. butternut squash*
1/4 c. olive oil
lots of ground sea salt & black pepper
6 slices bacon
2 tbsp. bacon grease (reserved)
1/4 c. fresh sage leaves, diced
salt & pepper to taste
(optional: 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar)**
Baguette, cut into thin slices
app. 4 tbsp. butter
8 oz. (perferably smoked) gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
*I used a 2.5-lb. squash, and ended up not using about 2 c. of it in the bruschetta mix.Additionally, you could use just about any squash that roasts well in this recipe!
**I loved this bruschetta with just a touch of apple cider vinegar. My husband thought it far better without. I'll leave it up to you and yours!
Roast the Squash:
Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by covering it with foil and spraying with cooking spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and remove seeds and pulpy bits. Brush all parts of the squash halves with the olive oil, and sprinkle the flesh side with the salt and pepper.
Bake - flesh side down - for 30-50 minutes, checking frequently after 30 minutes for doneness (it's done when it can be easily pierced with a fork).
Remove from oven; allow to cool. Once cool, peel off the skin and chop into 1/4-inch size chunks. Set aside.
Prepare the bacon:
Fry bacon until crisp. Reserve 2 tbsp. of the bacon grease. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Once cool, crumble into small bits.
Make bruschetta topping:
Gently mix togther your chopped squash, bacon crumbles, 1-2 tbsp. of the bacon grease (depending on taste preference), fresh sage, cider vinegar (if using), and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 450*. Butter one side of each baguette slice, and place butter side down on baking sheet. Place one thin piece of gruyere on top of each baguette slice. Toast for 3-5 minutes until bread is crispy and cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.
Top toasted bread with bruschetta topping. I think this is best served when the topping is slighly warmed, so don't be afraid to throw it in the microwave for a minute to warm it before serving.
The bruschetta topping can be prepared a day ahead of time. Your bacon won't be quite as crispy this way, but can save time on an already busy food-prep day like Thanksgiving!