Are you looking for an appetizer that is as colorful as it is flavorful? With roasted kabocha squash, ricotta cheese, and onions cooked in a maple syrup-apple cider vinegar reduction, these kabocha squash toasts are so tangy and so delicious! The maple syrup-cider vinegar reduction is what makes these toasts so special to me. As the sautéed onions simmer in the sweet/sour mixture, they take on a soft, jammy texture and a smoky flavor that blends beautifully with the slightly nutty flavor of the kabocha squash. Add that lusciousness to ricotta cheese, and you have a wonderful meeting of flavors and textures.
I adapted this recipe from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via the Smitten Kitchen. I used kabocha squash instead of butternut squash, and omitted the red chile flakes and changed a couple of little things, but for the most part, stuck close to the recipe, though rewrote it in my own words. I love anything with vinegar, and the mixture of vinegar and maple syrup mixed with sautéed onions is one of my favorites. In addition, kabocha squash is my favorite squash, mainly because of its velvety texture and slightly sweet, nutty flavor. I also like it because the skin is tender and edible when roasted, so there is no need to peel it.
Perhaps you need to make some appetizers for a holiday gathering, or maybe you are looking for a light lunch idea. In either case, these toasts would be tasty, beautiful, and seasonal. And maybe you could even convert a non-squash-lover! Wish me luck, I have a couple of those in my family!
With Thanksgiving coming up soon, many people have a lot on their minds. In addition to Thanksgiving, my husband and daughter have birthdays at the end of this month. If I think about it all too much, my mind gets really full. So I am really trying to take it moment by moment, and also to be mindful of what I put into my head. I am taking a break from listening to, watching, or reading about the news today. I think it is important to be informed, but sometimes enough is enough, and we need to balance our thoughts with positive images and gratitude.
As I was shooting photos of the kabocha squash toasts today, suddenly the glass of water by the plate tipped over. I looked over and saw that my dog was pulling on a blanket that was near where I had set up the photo shoot, and he somehow pulled things enough to knock over the water. He was staring at the water dripping onto the floor and then at me, like I had done it! He made me laugh so hard! Luckily it was just water, and luckily that dog brings me down to earth every single day with his clowning around.
I hope you all have a great weekend, and don’t stress too much about the holidays! They are meant to be meaningful, festive, merciful, generous, and celebratory. If you need an appetizer to share, try these toasts! This time of year, I don’t even mind the cold air, because it helps me to get out on a brisk walk and clear my head. Nothing clears the head (or the soul) like a cold, November wind. “It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.” ~L.M. Montgomery
Kabocha Squash Toasts
- 1 small to medium-sized kabocha squash
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 8 slices of country bread, about 1/2 inch thick
- 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
- 4 teaspoons of fresh mint leaves
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Wash your squash and cut it in half. (No need to peel it). Scoop out the seeds and cut the halves in half again. Carefully cut the squash into slices about 1/4 inch thick. A good, sharp knife really helps with this, as kabocha squash can be a bit of a challenge to cut. Place the squash in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Roast the squash in your 400 degree oven for about 15-20minutes, or until the squash is tender and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and slightly browned. Add the cider vinegar and maple syrup, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced and the onions have a jammy texture.
Add the onion mixture to the roasted squash on the baking sheet and mix and mash a bit with a fork. Adjust seasonings to taste.
In another large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 3 slices of bread at a time, and cook bread until golden brown on both sides. Continue until you have toasted about 8 slices of bread, adding olive oil as needed. Drain the toast on a paper-towel lined plate.
Spread each piece of toast generously with ricotta cheese and top with the squash-onion mixture. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and top with fresh mint leaves. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via the Smitten Kitchen blog.