My Take: Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Sage Crostini

Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Sage Crostini

As Thanksgiving rolls around the big bird and the plethora of sides and desserts we assemble to accompany it get all of the love, leaving little room for the lowly appetizer. This is truly a shame because heaven knows there’s always more time between when guests arrive and when we sit down to the Thanksgiving table than any of our stomachs would truly like. We load up our plates with grumbly bellies and low blood sugar which can lead not only to excessive overindulgence but crankiness with our fellow diners (which may happen even with full bellies and robust blood sugar so it doesn’t need any further assistance).

I submit that a properly sized and timed pre-dinner nibble bursting with fall flavors is just the primer your guests’ palates need to prepare them properly for the dinner you’ve so lovingly created.

Wow – someone pushed my alliteration button tonight.

I also submit that the Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Sage Crostini from the October Bon Appetite is that properly sized palate primer. It is substantial enough that one or two will quell any niggling appetites and each creamy yet crunchy bite looks and tastes like fall. I initially worried that the creamy ricotta and the soft roasted squash wouldn’t have enough texture difference and the dish would be mostly mushy, but their textures are just different enough that they worked well together, particularly when combined with the crunchy crostini. Lemon zest in the ricotta brings just enough brightness to each bite that it doesn’t feel heavy.

And, as icing on the cake (or sage on the crostini), all of the elements of this nibble can be made the day before so you don’t have to add one more thing to an already busy day. It takes about 15 minutes total to assemble the finished crostini and plate them, which you can do while you enjoy a relaxing glass of bubbly (or possibly a shot if that’s more your style) in the last quiet minutes before your guests arrive.

So go ahead, buck tradition and make an appetizer for your next big Thanksgiving dinner. But not just any appetizer, this appetizer.

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