Does your family have Thanksgiving appetizers? I tend to think they are necessary. I mean, usually on Thanksgiving Day, you have the one large meal, but generally it’s not served until mid to late afternoon. Obviously eating a regular sized lunch is out of the question, but asking people to not eat anything until the big meal is a bit unreasonable. A little snack earlier in the day is a necessity.
And this year, I think you should shake things up and serve these wonderful little bruschettas. Nothing about them was the least bit unbalanced. All the diverse flavors melded perfectly together in one harmonious bite (though rest assured, you’ll take more than one bite!).
This is fairly easy to throw together too, as steps can be taken ahead of time, and it’s supposed to be served around-ish room temperature anyway (a little warm is also just fine though). The butternut puree is incredibly thick, kind of like peanut butter! I was a bit skeptical, but that wasn’t needed – it was perfect. The espresso powder sprinkled on top might sound weird, but it works soooooo well. It provides a bitter note that perfectly balances out the sweetness of the squash.
I think I’m using the word “perfect” a little too often, but well, that says it all! Try this one, either as a snack earlier in the day on Thanksgiving, or a wonderful h’or d’oerve at a holiday cocktail party. Enjoy!
Source: slightly adapted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
2 cups peeled, cubed, and seeded butternut squash (about 1 small)
1 small onion, roots cut off and quartered
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tbs olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne
1 loaf Italian semolina bread, sliced on the diagonal and grilled or toasted
Instant espresso powder, for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Spread the butternut squash and onion quarters on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle with olive oil. Shake the pan or toss to evenly coat everything. Bake until the squash is soft and golden, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then scrape the contents of the baking sheet into your food processor.
Add the cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and cayenne. Process until very smooth. Using a small cereal spoon or a butter knife, spread a dollop of puree onto each bread slice. Sprinkle a small amount of espresso powder on top of the puree. Set out on a platter or tray and let your guests dig in.