I have a major thing for pieces of toasty bread schmeared with things, or piled with things, or both. Call me predictable, but whenever someone says they're coming over and I'm searching for what to make, crostini almost always comes to mind as the way to begin. And you can go so many different ways with them! I concocted these last night to have before some cauliflower soup (a total melange of what we happened to have since we had some surprise guests). They were a smashing success! Just perfect for fall or winter, and I always love the gorgeous color combination of greens and squash. —fiveandspice
2 1/2 cups
of 1/2 inch cubes of peeled winter squash, I used kabocha, butternut would be a good alternative
large clove of garlic, minced
kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves well chopped
whole milk ricotta
zest from 1 small lemon
3/4-inch slices of baguette, sliced on the diagonal
Preheat your oven to 425F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash cubes generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and toss. Roast in the oven, stirring a couple of times to flip (you may smash and destroy some of the little cubes in this process. It's okay. They're going to be mounded on bread anyway.), until the pieces are tender, around 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Turn the oven down to 375F. Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil, put on a baking sheet in a single layer, pop into the oven, and bake until golden, around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the toasts to a cooling rack.
In the meantime, as the bread toasts, in a large sautee pan, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over moderately high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and sautee until golden (1 or 2 minutes), then add the chopped kale. Sprinkle with some salt. Cook, stirring, until the greens have nicely wilted and all their water has been cooked off. Taste and add more salt as desired (I like my greens salty, so I'm not even going to tell you how much I use!). Remove from the heat and gently stir in the squash cubes.
In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta and lemon zest. Spread the ricotta on the toasts, then put a heaping spoonful - maybe two if you can cram on there (we're going for a look of abundance) - of the kale-squash mixture on each toast. Arrange the crostini artfully on a large serving tray. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve! These are good warm or at room temperature. They are also good with sparkling wine. Just sayin'
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.