Autumn dinner parties approaching? These squash and Parmesan crostini make great little snacks to enjoy with drinks or to follow a main course as a lovely alternative to a cheese platter.
If possible, use a good aged Parmesan to make all the difference to the dish
• 1 butternut squash (or small pumpkin), weighing 900-1kg
• 100g unsalted butter
• 12 sprigs thyme
• 12 slices baguette
• 250g parmesan cheese, (150g grated and 100g shaved)
• Stock syrup, using vanilla variation, for drizzling
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
1 Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and fibres with a spoon. Cut the halves across to separate the bulbous top from the bottom part. Slice the bulbous parts into thin wedges, each about 1–1.5cm thick.
2 You need 12 neat wedges. Set these aside. Peel the remaining squash (including any extra wedges) and roughly chop the flesh.
3 Melt 75g of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped squash and stir to coat with the melted butter, then cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until very soft (the squash should not brown).
4 Tip the hot squash into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a pan. If you find the purée too watery, simmer until it has thickened slightly. Set aside (in the pan).
5 Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it begins to foam, add the squash wedges and season with a little salt and pepper. Fry for 4–5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the squash is golden brown and tender.
6 Add the thyme sprigs during the last minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the squash and thyme from the pan to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Keep warm in a low oven.
7 Add the baguette slices to the butter remaining in the pan and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side or until evenly golden brown. Remove to a plate (keep the browned butter in the pan) and place in the low oven to keep warm.
8 Reheat the squash purée over medium heat. Add the grated Parmesan and mix well until the cheese has melted and the purée is smooth again.
9 To serve, put three pieces of toast on each warmed serving plate. Place a wedge of fried squash on each toast and add a generous spoonful of Parmesan and squash purée. Garnish with the fried thyme sprigs and Parmesan shavings.
10 Finally, drizzle a little vanilla stock syrup and any remaining browned butter from the pan over the plates. Serve at once.
Recipe courtesy of Jason Atherton, extracted from Social Sweets © Absolute Press