If I could eat only one appetizer every week this Fall it would be the apple & Maple butternut squash crostini! From the creamy creamy ricotta cheese spread to the tangy apple, squash and maple combo, this crostini is bursting with Fall flavors.
The temperature is dropping, and with it, our cravings for those cozy Fall flavors are on the rise. Autumn is all about warmth and spices, with apples, squash, and hearty soups and stews that we can share with family and friends.
Alongside the crisp air, we also feel the desire to spend more time in the kitchen, preparing delicious dishes for our loved ones.
In my case, my friends are often my willing taste-testers for new recipes, and today, I’m excited to share one of my favorite Fall appetizers with you: the Apple and Maple Butternut Squash Crostini.
Crostini: The Essence of Italian Flavor
Crostini, which means “little crusts” in Italian, are delightful bite-sized toasts.
They serve as the perfect canvas for an array of toppings, and today, we’re going to top them with creamy ricotta cheese, apples, and butternut squash.
The combination of these seasonal ingredients, along with a touch of maple syrup, pecans, and aromatic herbs like rosemary and sage, creates a scrumptious bite that encapsulates the essence of Fall.
Let’s Get Cooking
Step 1: Toasting the Crostini
To start, you’ll need a long, thin French baguette.
Slice it into thin pieces, about 1/4 inch thick, making around 20 crostinis (cutting 24 is a good idea to be safe).
Brush each side of the slices with olive oil and bake them for 5 minutes on each side at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Preparing the Ricotta Mixture
While the crostinis are in the oven, let’s whip up the ricotta mixture.
Take one cup of whole milk ricotta cheese, add a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and about two tablespoons of finely minced fresh parsley.
Mix these ingredients well and pop the mixture in the refrigerator until it’s time to assemble the crostinis.
Step 3: Preparing the Squash and Apples
I do not suggest to get frozen butternut squash. Fresh is readily available and it’s so much better.
Slice off the end with the stem and use about three or four 1/2-inch slices.
Remove the rind and cube the squash into small 1/4 to 1/2-inch chunks, totaling about 1 1/2 cups. Don’t let the rest of the squash go to waste – you can prepare it as a delicious side dish.
Next, peel and cube your apples. Pink Lady apples are a great choice, but feel free to use your favorite tart baking apples.
Peel and chop them into similarly sized small cubes as the squash, aiming for about 1-1 1/2 cups of each.
Step 4: Flavorful Roasting
Before mixing everything, take the crostinis out of the oven and raise the temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place 3 tablespoons of butter on the baking sheet and let it melt for about three minutes in the oven.
Once melted, set it aside. If you don’t want to do this simply melt your butter in the microwave and add to the bowl with the olive oil. By baking you can eliminate one dirty dish!
In a mixing bowl, combine the apples and squash with a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of maple syrup, fresh rosemary leaves (the leaves from three small sprigs), two fresh sage leaves, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss this mixture with the melted butter on the baking sheet and bake it for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
Step 5: Adding the Finishing Touch
After ten minutes, remove the mixture from the oven and discard the sage leaves. Add two tablespoons of finely chopped pecans to the mixture and continue baking for an additional ten minutes.
While the mixture is in the oven, spread a generous teaspoon of the ricotta mixture onto each crostini.
Once the apple and squash mixture is done, add about one tablespoon of it to each crostini.
Finally, drizzle the butternut squash crostinis with balsamic vinegar glaze. This isn’t your regular balsamic vinegar; it’s a rich, dark syrup-like glaze you can find in the condiment aisle.
Time to Savor
I hope you fall in love with this butternut squash crostini appetizer as much as I have. It’s incredibly delicious and a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table or simply a “Thanks for Having Such Great Friends” gathering.
I could seriously eat this weekly so I hope you enjoy! Remember Fall goes by quickly so indulge yourself in the bounty of Fall veggies and fruits as much as you can!
Apple and Maple Butternut Squash Crostini
- 1 Sided Baking Sheet
- 1 Long Thin Baguette of French Bread
- 2 TB Olive Oil For brushing crostini
- 1 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese Drain off any water
- 2 TB Fresh Parsley Finely Chopped
- 1/2 Tsp Salt and Pepper
- 1 Butternut Squash
- 1-2 Tart Pink Lady Apples Use any you choose just use tart apples good for baking
- 1 TB Olive Oil
- 3 TB Butter – Melted You can melt in microwave or on the pan in the oven after cooking your crostini
- 1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 TB Fresh Rosemary Leaves
- 2 Fresh Sage Leaves Remove from cooking after 10 min
- 1 TB Maple Syrup
- 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
- 1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 Tsp Salt and 3 Cranks Fresh Pepper
- 2 TB Pecans Added during last 10 min of cooking
- 1 Bottle Balsamic Vinegar Glaze Room temp
- Slice baguette in 20-24 thin slices about 1/4 inch thick
- Brush both sides with Olive Oil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes total.
- Turn after 5 minutes then remove when done and set aside
- Turn your oven to 425 degrees
- Mix ricotta cheese with 2 TB finely chopped fresh parsley
- Add salt and pepper to taste and put in refrigerator
- Chop Butternut Squash in 3-4 1/2 slices from stem end
- Slice off the skin of each slice then cube in small chunks – 1/4 inch or so to get 1 generous cup
- Peel and Cube 1-2 Apples in the same as above to get 1 generous cup- you will have equal amounts of apple and squash
- Mix the apple and squash with rosemary, sage, red pepper, maple syrup, olive oil, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper then bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes
- After ten minutes remove from oven and remove and discard the sage leaves. Add your chopped pecans and continue to bake for remaining 10 minutes. Then remove
- Top each crostini with approx one tsp of ricotta mixture.
- Add approx one TB baked mixture to ricotta topped crostini.
- Drizzle the apple and squash crostini with balsamic vinegar glaze. Do this by holding the bottle about 10 inches above and lightly drizzle the glaze back and forth to form a light drizzle over each crostini.
- Serve warm