Butternut squash isn’t only for soup! These butternut squash crostini appetizers elevate this humble fall gourd to super star status!
Why you’ll love it: Beautiful to look at and so delicious!
How long it takes: 35 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, roasting pan, oven
Servings: 24 crostini
Did you ever buy a butternut squash just because it’s fall, they are on sale in the grocery store, and it seems like they’re calling your name? Then you get the squash home and and you think, well, now what? Maybe you have guests coming over for a holiday get together and you’re pretty sure you won’t be serving butternut squash mash or butternut squash stew with their cocktails.
Don’t despair, I have just the right recipe for this dilemma–you can use your abundance of squash, and serve a stunning appetizer!
I love these butternut squash crostini. During our crostini week cooking marathon, we tried to decide which recipe is the winner and it was a tough decision. Honestly, we love them all–there’s not a bad one in the bunch! But we agreed that these butternut squash crostini are a knock out in the looks department. Aren’t the colors fabulous? Dark orange, crimson red, creamy white, olive green–wow!
And they excel in the taste department, too! Golden roasted squash bits, nestled in creamy ricotta spread on crispy toast, garnished with pomegranate arils, and crunchy pepitas, drizzled with sweet pomegranate molasses–I bet you can’t wait to get started on making these! I know you won’t be able to stop eating them. I love how the pomegranate arils are a little juicy burst of flavor in your mouth.
You might think something that tastes so wonderful has to be loaded with calories. Well, think again! These little gems are loaded with nutrition but not calories, only 120 calories each. Hurray! We can all enjoy good recipes like that.
About this butternut squash crostini
The base of this appetizer is simply toasted bread. The little slices of toasted bread are called crostini. You can find easy directions on how to make perfect crostini here. This step can be done a day ahead of time if you prefer.
I’ll run through the recipe here and get you started. As always, look for the printable recipe card with full directions and nutrition information near the bottom of the post.
What You’ll Need
- Crostini: A French baguette, sliced and toasted with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Butternut Squash: Orange-fleshed and creamy, butternut squash is tan colored and oblong shaped, narrow at the top and larger at the bottom, almost like a bell. It’s sweet in flavor and full of vitamins and antioxidants.
- Fresh Sage Leaves: Sage is a great fall herb but if you prefer, fresh thyme or oregano can be substituted.
- Ricotta Cheese: Smooth, creamy, and delicious, ricotta cheese is a good spreadable cheese that is mild in flavor. I like full-fat but low-fat works too.
- Pomegranate Seeds: Commonly called “arils”, the brilliant red seeds are juicy and bursting with tart flavor.
- Pumpkin Seeds: You may know these as pepitas. They are the inside kernels of pumpkin seeds and are best if you toast them lightly.
- Pomegranate Molasses: Very sweet and with concentrated flavor, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses really is the finishing touch for these crostini.
How To Make This Recipe
First, prepare the squash for roasting. Wash, peel, remove the seeds, and cut the squash into uniformly sized small cubes. The size matters because you want to have little bits of squash on the crostini, not gigantic chunks. In addition, even sized pieces will cook evenly, which is also important.
Prepping Butternut Squash
If you’re not sure how to tackle cutting that squash, check out “how to cook butternut squash.” I’ll walk you though it step by step.
Toss the cubes with a little olive oil, fresh sage, salt, and pepper, and roast briefly in the oven. This won’t take long because the pieces are small and the oven is hot. The goal is to roast them until they are tender to the bite, not crunchy, not mushy.
Now, here’s the thing: two cups of cubed squash will do nicely for your appetizers but I say, go ahead and cut the whole squash up. You won’t need it all for the crostini but I guarantee that when they come out of the oven all toasty and tasty, you’ll be popping them into your mouth like candy. They are so addicting! Just make sure you have enough room on your baking pan to spread them out nicely.
When you’re ready to serve these butternut squash appetizers, spread a little creamy ricotta on a crostini, pile on the butternut squash, and sprinkle with a few pomegranate arils (seeds) and pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). If you have it, drizzle a little pomegranate molasses over the crostini–it’s the frosting on the cake.
If you have extra pomegranate molasses, make sure to try this fattoush recipe!
What To Serve With This Appetizer
Butternut squash crostini pair nicely with an oaky chardonnay. Pino noir is great, too, or a good craft beer, perhaps a nice brown ale or porter.
If you’re more in the mood for a cocktail, try a Maple Old Fashioned, Apple Cider Mule (Fall Moscow Mule), Orange Gin and Tonic with Cinnamon, or an Apple Cider Mocktail (non-alcoholic but can easily be made into a cocktail, if you prefer).
Winter squash can be pretty hard to cut into. Use a large sharp knife and a cutting board. To soften the squash before cutting, slice off both ends and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. Allow it to cool before handling.
A butternut squash is a winter squash with a hard skin, making it perfect for longer storage. Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months.
According to Healthline, butternut squash is low in calories and loaded with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants.
Make It Your Own
You can be as creative as you like when you make crostini. Those toasty little bread slices are just crying out for toppings and I’m sure that you’ll come up with all kinds of combinations that are perfect for you. Here’s a few suggestions to make these butternut squash crostini your own:
- Flavor the squash cubes with different spices or herbs. I used fresh sage, but I love the idea of roasting the squash with curry powder, cinnamon, chili powder, or five spice powder. This recipe for spicy sweet butternut squash with maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne is fantastic for the crostini. Fresh thyme, tarragon, or oregano is good. too.
- Use a cream cheese spread instead of the ricotta. Again, there are lots of flavors to choose from. Goat cheese is so yummy, too, and comes in a variety of flavors.
- Not a fan of pumpkin seeds? Other choices might be chopped pistachios or roasted sunflower seeds, or no nuts or seeds at all. Crumbled bacon is always a good choice!
- Can’t find pomegranate molasses in your store? We also like drizzling these with honey or balsamic reduction.
These butternut squash crostini are best assembled right before serving. If you want to prep ahead of time, toast the bread slices, cool completely, and store in an air tight container.
The squash can cut up and stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Either roast it right before you want to serve it, or roast the squash a day ahead, cool completely, and refrigerate. Let the squash come to room temperature before serving or for best results, spread it out on a roasting pan to warm it up a bit in the oven.
If you have any roasted squash left over, use it to make this wonderful farro salad with butternut squash, bacon, and dried cranberries or another favorite of mine, autumn quinoa salad with maple mustard vinaigrette. You’ll be glad you made the extra squash!
More great fall appetizers
Want to serve up the fabulous flavors of fall? Try these appetizer recipes:
- Sausage Pinwheels with Apple, Sage, and Gruyère
- Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Wild Mushroom Crostini with Goat Cheese
- Roasted Grape Crostini with Ricotta and Honey
- Baked Brie with Cranberries and Bourbon Pecans
- Sweet Potato Wedges with Chinese Five Spice
- Pumpkin Spice Candied Walnuts
- Healthy Queso with Butternut Squash (better for you!)
- 1 baguette French bread, made into crostini
- 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large leaves fresh sage, roughly chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (arils)
- 2 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- pomegranate molasses, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Prepare large baking pan by lining with parchment paper.
- Put diced squash onto pan, add olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir well, coating squash with oil. Bake 20 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Do not overcook. Squash should be bite tender, not mushy.
- To prepare crostini, spread approximately ½ tablespoon of ricotta on each prepared bread slice.
- Arrange roasted squash cubes, pomegranate arils, and peitas on crostini.
- Drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
- Serve immediately.
- Use honey or balsamic reduction instead of pomegranate molasses, if desired.
- Other types of spreadable cheese can be used instead of ricotta.
- Make Ahead: Crostini can be made a couple of days ahead, cooled thoroughly, and stored in an airtight container. Squash can be prepped and cut up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate. Squash can be roasted up to one day in advance; cool completely and store in refrigerator.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.