Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Smashed Squash Toasts with Cider Vinegar and Ricotta

My baby girl started eating solids a little over a month ago.  First, she started with a rice cereal slurry, then moved on to smushed up avocado, and then sweet potatoes.  For most veggies, I end up steaming them without any seasoning and then puree them smooth in my Magic Bullet.  Plain steamed broccoli may be unappetizing to me, but my 7 month old gobbles it up (usually). 

I was trying to find ways to re-purpose baby food for grown-up meals and came across this squash toast recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  The only major adjustment I made was using pre-cut butternut squash rather than buying it whole, to save on time.  While I roasted most of the butternut squash in oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes for the recipe, I set aside a cup and roasted it plain for my daughter.  She loved the squash, and us adults were equally happy with our squash toasts.  The vinegary caramelized onions balance out the sweetness of the squash and creaminess of the ricotta.  The mint might seem random, but it just works.  These are perfect for a New Year's Eve cocktail party, or even a weeknight meal in as the components can be made ahead of time and keep well.


Smashed squash toasts with ricotta and cider vinegar
Adapted from recipe from here

2 pounds of cubed butternut squash (I bought the pre-cut bag from Trader Joe's for $4.99)
1/2 c of olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp of sea salt
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/3 of a round of sourdough bread (I used the Trader Joe's cracked wheat sourdough bread for some extra texture)
1/2 c of ricotta
10 mint leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss the cubed butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and the chili flakes.  Roast on a foil lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, and then flip and roast until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes more.
While the squash is roasting, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and salt, and cook while intermittently stirring until lightly browned.  Then add the vinegar and maple syrup, cooking for another 15 minutes until the onions are very soft and broken down.  Combine the caramelized onions and the squash, smashing them all together.
Heat a large skillet and 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.  Cook the bread in a single layer until golden brown on both sides.  Spread the ricotta on the toasts.  Pile on the squash mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt, and garnish with mint leaves.

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