2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole grain baguette loaf
1 small butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup finely minced shallots or onions
1 clove finely minced garlic
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of sage leaves (optional)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cracked black pepper
½ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup walnut pieces, diced
Combine the dried cranberries, orange juice and walnut pieces in a bowl and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F. Slice the whole grain baguette across to create coin-shaped slices about 1 inch thick and place on a cookie sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil and bake for five minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted.
Cut the squash from blossom end to stem. Wrap one-half in plastic and save for another time. Using a tablespoon, remove the seeds from remaining squash. Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over the surface of the cut portion of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash into a baking dish, but side down with about 2 tablespoons of water and tightly cover the pan with foil. Cook the squash for 1 hour or until fork tender and the skin is evenly wrinkled. After cooling slightly, separate the meat of the squash from the skin and set aside. Sauté 1 tablespoon of butter and all of the shallots or onion and garlic until translucent but not caramelized. Add the squash to the pan and slowly cook the mixture about 10 minutes to evaporate some moisture and intensify the flavors. Season the mixture with cinnamon, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Blend the squash mixture until smooth and thick. Remove from the blender and set the spread aside until ready to assemble.
Spread a small amount (about a teaspoon) of the squash mixture onto each slice of bread. Top with about 1 teaspoon of the cranberry garnish and place on a decorative serving platter. Serve while crostini is crisp and fresh.
Makes about 36 small tastes. Serves 12
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