Oct 9, 2011

Butternut Squash Spread with Cheese Toasts

      I brought this appetizer to a get-together recently and it was very good. This appetizer is perfect for fall. It is creamy, warm and satisfying. The ingredients seem like an odd combination of flavors, but they worked together beautifully. The addition of pecans, rosemary and thyme really help this spread taste like autumn. 

      The spread looks really creamy, but it only uses 4 ounces of cream cheese. Please note that the Parmesan/Asiago cheese is actually divided among the cheese toasts and the spread. This is actually a pretty healthy dip for how creamy it tastes.

      I had about 1- 1 1/2 cups of spread leftover, you can toss the leftover spread with pasta for a delicious fall sauce or seal it in wonton wrappers for butternut squash ravioli. Or you can spread it on bread and eat it as open faced sandwiches all week.

Butternut Squash Spread with Cheese Toasts
adapted from Southern Living
makes about 4 dozen

1 medium butternut squash
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (low-fat is fine, but don't use fat-free)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 whole baguette sliced thin (about 48 pieces)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

For the spread:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add hot water to dish to depth of 1-inch. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until squash is tender. Remove squash pulp, discarding shells. 
While the squash is steaming heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once butter is melted sauté garlic until golden. Add garlic to a large bowl. Mash squash pulp and place in large bowl with garlic.
Add cream cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese, and sugar, thyme and rosemary to bowl; mash until blended. Stir in pecans.
For the toasts:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place baguette slices on 2 large ungreased baking sheets; brush or drizzle olive oil over baguette slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 4 minutes. Sprinkle baguette slices with remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake 2 more minutes or until cheese melts.
Spoon 1 Tablespoon squash mixture onto each cheese crouton. 

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