I’m not going to lie, this appetizer takes a little bit of effort but it is WELL worth the steps. Also, it’s totally appropriate to sample at all steps in the process so get in the mood and make these Honeynut Squash Crostini with Whipped Ricotta and Fried Sage.
What is Honeynut Squash?
First things first, what is honeynut squash? I learned about it for the first time on my trip up to Middlebury Organic Farms to pick up a box full of organic fall goodies. It’s basically butternut squash’s mini-me. Aside from being tiny and absolutely adorable, honeynut squash is sweet and packed with nutrients. It’s also a relatively new variety that was developed in the last decade and has just recently been hitting the farmer’s market stands over the past few years. Get ready to see a lot of it in the coming years. I’m hooked. If you’re lucky enough to find some, you can basically substitute it for butternut squash in any recipe. Highly recommended.
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Step One: Roast the Honeynut Squash
Ok so now that you’re committed to making these, let’s get into how to roast the squash. Honeynut squash is small and tender so it’s pretty easy to handle. I recommend cutting off the top stem and a small slice from the bottom so you have two flat ends. They use a peeler to remove the skin. I absolutely love this Kuhn Rikon Y Peeler.
Once you’ve peeled it, stand it up on the wider flat end and carefully slice all the way down. Scoop the seeds and stringy stuff out of the middle and then cut into small cubes. Aim for about 1/2 inch cubes and try to get the pieces all roughly the same size. This ensures that they all cook evenly and that they look pretty on your crostini. Toss in olive oil and salt. Roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes until their tender and a bit crispy. Toss halfway through.
This step can be done in advance as the crostini are served room temperature. Feel free to snack on squash cubes. They’re DELISH!
Step Two: Whip Up The Ricotta
While your squash is roasting, whip up some ricotta. If you haven’t whipped ricotta before, you haven’t lived! You might have some of this left over depending on how many crostini you’re making but do not fret, you can enjoy it with so many things! Use it as a dip for crudites, use it to top your breakfast toast with a drizzle of honey, or make more crostini and top with this Tomato and Garlic Confit which you should have on hand at all times. There really are so many possibilities.
Whipping ricotta is so simple. Add the ricotta, a little cream, olive oil and salt to your food processor and flip it on high till it’s smooth and creamy. That’s it! You definitely want to make sure that you use high quality, full fat ricotta and good olive oil for this. The ingredients are simple so you will really taste it. Treat yourself to the good stuff here.
This can also be done ahead of time, even the day before! Whipped ricotta will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days. Just let it come to room temperature before you assemble your crostini.
Step Three: Fry Up Some Sage Leaves
Now here’s how you really set it off – FRIED SAGE. Do not skip this garnish! Not only does it add color but a delicious, crispy, herby bite that really pulls it all together. And yes, you have to fry it, but it’s super simple. The most important thing about frying sage is that it goes SUPER fast, like literally 3 seconds in the hot oil so do a few leaves at a time and work quickly. Just heat some olive oil in a pan. Wait till it’s hot or your sage leaves will just soak up oil instead of crisp. Toss in a few leaves and count to three. Remove immediately and drain on paper towels. I like to work in small batches.
Step Four: Make Crostini
Grab a baguette and make some cute little toasts! Crostini sounds super sophisticated but it means “little toasts” in italian! They are a must for any charcuterie board and lots of different dips so here’s some tips on how to make them.
Get a fresh baguette, the kind that’s crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Get the good bread. Cut with a serrated knife into half inch slices. You want to cut them thick enough so they stand up to the toppings but thin enough so that whatever you’re topping them with shines.
Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toast in a 400 degree oven for about 5-7 minutes until lightly browned and toasty.
Let’s Put it All Together
You’ve gone through all of the steps, now it’s time to assemble! Wait till your crostini are completely cooled before you top. You wouldn’t want all this hard work to go to waste when that delicious whipped ricotta hits warm toast and turns into a melty mess. Be patient.
Top each toast with about a tablespoon of whipped ricotta, then 5-6 cubes or about 1/4 cup of squash. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt like Maldon. Nestle two fried sage leaves into each crostini, plate on a pretty platter and stand back and admire your work. Your guests will LOVE these. You already know because you probably ate a few in the making.
A delicious appetizer of crispy crostini topped with sweet, roasted honeynut squash, creamy whipped ricotta and fried sage.
For the roasted honeynut squash
- 2 small honeynut squash (about 4–5 cups of 1/2 inch cubes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the whipped ricotta
- 16oz whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 bunches fresh sage (about 24–30 leaves)
- 3–4 tbsp olive oil for frying
- One baguette sliced into 24 1/2 inch slices
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Flaky salt like Maldon
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube honeynut squash. Make sure to cut the squash into even, 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes till tender and slightly browned and crispy. Set aside to cool.
- Add ricotta, heavy cream, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt to the food processor and whip on high until ricotta is smooth and creamy.
- Slice baguette into 1/2 inch rounds and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toast in 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
- Heat 3-4 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet. Drop sage leaves in a few at a time, frying for exactly 3 seconds. Remove promptly to drain on a paper towel.
- Assemble crostini starting with 1 tbsp of whipped ricotta. Add 5-6 cubes of roasted squash. Once they are all topped with ricotta and squash on a platter, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Nestle 2 fried sage leaves in each crostini. Serve.
These are a lot of steps but all of the elements can be assembled ahead of time.
Whipped ricotta can be done the day before, it keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Roasted squash must be room temp for assembly so that can be done a few hours in advance.
Fried sage can sit out at room temp in an airtight container for up to 2 days so this can be done in advance as well.
Keywords: Honeynut squash, roasted squash, crostini, whipped ricotta, butternut squash, fried sage, holiday appetizer