Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Walnuts & Sage

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One of the activities that we enjoy with our farmhouse guests here in Umbria are our wine tastings. My husband picks three local Umbrian wines, and I then match them with two appetizers each. Although I have some tried and true appetizers that work year round that everyone loves, I do try and incorporate some seasonal ones into the mix as well. With the arrival of fall, I am now seeing pumpkin and squash available in our local markets and grocery stores, and I decided to create a roasted butternut squash bruschetta to serve to our guests this fall. Roasting the squash brings out its natural sugars through caramelization, and it is delicious served on grilled slices of bread with minced fresh sage and some shaved Pecorino Romano cheese. Lightly toasted chopped walnuts add some texture, and I like to finish the bruschetta with a light drizzle of our very own extra virgin olive oil as well as a little honey.

When choosing bread for bruschetta, I find a crusty baguette that is about 3 inches in diameter works well. I prefer butternut squash over pumpkin as I find it has a sweeter taste and is a little more dense in texture, but other winter squash varieties would work just as well. Here in Umbria, we choose Pecorino cheese over Parmesan, as it has a sharper, more vibrant flavor that works well with the squash, but feel free to use Parmesan cheese if you prefer. I like to slightly mash some of the squash after it has been roasted to help it to adhere to the toasted bread slices.  A sprinkling of cracked black pepper on the bruschetta before serving is the perfect contrast to the sweet squash topping. This bruschetta is best served at room temperature and can be assembled an hour or two before serving, making it a great option for fall entertaining.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Walnuts & Sage

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Butternut Squash Cut Into 3/4-inch Dice
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Minced Fresh Sage
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Crusty Loaf of Baguette Bread, Sliced Into 3/4-inch Slices

To Serve:

  • 1/4 Cup Lightly Toasted Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Runny Honey
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Baby Sage Leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the diced squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and lay the squash evenly on a foil lined baking sheet.
Bake the squash for 10 minutes, stir, then bake for another 10 minutes or until fork tender.
Place the squash in a bowl and mix with the minced sage with a fork, slightly mashing down some of the squash.
Turn the broiler on high, and place the bread slices on a baking sheet.
Broil each side of the bread slices just until they begin to turn brown, about 3 minutes each side.
Remove from the oven and lightly brush with the remaining olive oil.
Place the bread slices on a serving platter.
Scoop some of the squash mixture onto each toasted bread slice, gently spreading it to cover.
Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the squash, then top with pieces of the shaved cheese.
Carefully drizzle just a few drops of olive oil and honey over each bruschetta, then garnish each slice with 1 baby sage leaf.
Sprinkle finely cracked black pepper over the bruschetta and serve.