New Year’s Crostini (Jamon & Goat Cheese, Squash & Ricotta)

There’s a photo somewhere of my sister and I on New Year’s Eve, dressed in long silk nightgowns and poorly executed makeup. Our hair is wild and long. Our attire—ill-fitting and covered in frayed lace. We have a small table set up with hors d’oeuvres in our bedroom, in front of a small TV so we could watch fireworks go off around the world. She’s in red, I think I’m in pink. We can be no more than six and eight respectively and my mom let us play dress-up and throw our own New Year’s Eve party. I couldn’t say for certain but I’m pretty sure that was the year I fell asleep around eleven, woke up just after twelve, and went to bed pissed that I missed everything. Story of my life.

cros prep

This comes to mind now because, with a few exceptions, not much has changed. I don’t wear lace negligées and I can do my make-up with some skill, but I have spent the majority of my New Year’s gorging on appetizers in front of the TV and fighting to stay awake until midnight. I know, I sound incredibly boring, but I’m a borderline recluse who’d prefer to stay in and always gets incredibly and inexplicably tired just before the clock strikes midnight.

This is strictly a New Year’s issue however. I can stay up no problem binge-watching Netflix. I can stargaze for hours on end until the first signs of dawn glow on the horizon. Hell, I suffer from insomnia and have spent countless sleepless nights wide-eyed and awake like some nocturnal critter. I love the night! So I’m not sure what mystical, uncontrollable fatigue permeates my being nearly every New Year’s Eve. 

This year, however, it’s going to be different! This year, I’m going to a party. I’ll be bringing appetizers, there might be karaoke, I might even dress-up! We’ll see…but I am going to make it to midnight!

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Anyways, getting to the real essence of this post, the food! I’m trying out different recipes for this party I plan to stay awake for, and I’ve been having a slew of mini pre-New Year’s celebrations with anyone who wants to swing by and assist in the consumption of these snacks! My brother came over yesterday to taste-test and rate my creations. Both surpassed my expectations. I like crostini as an appetizer because they can be relatively simple to assemble and an easy way to impress your friends and family—Or just yourself, if you’re thinking hmmm I should make a ton of pretty crostini to take photos of for Instagram and then eat them all while binge-watching documentaries about castles. Yes, I did that. And I was impressed with how they came out…

crostini

I like to place butter or olive oil in a nonstick pan and pan-grill my the bread for my crostini (like a grilled cheese). I think the texture is far better than the shred-the-roof-of-your-mouth toasting or baking option. Plus the flavor of butter seared into bread is infinitely more delectable. 

The crostini with roasted squash with ricotta was practically a desert! I tossed butternut squash with honey and balsamic and roasted it, then I topped it with some crispy sage and beet chips. I didn’t make the chips, but purchased them at a farmer’s market. You could also use pine nuts or walnuts—something to add a bit of crunch and texture. For the second crostini I spied some Jamón Serrano at the store and the rest fell into place from there. Goat cheese to stand up to the salty and bold flavor of the ham and crisp an sweet bosc pears to balance everything out. I topped with thyme (and later a little honey just to try it out).

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Both versions were delicious, but I have to say that I—the self-proclaimed savory food snob—lost it over the sweet squash with ricotta. I know, I know, what’s happened to me?! Regardless of my lapse in moral character, both of these recipes are flavorful and mouthwatering, and sure to please your guests. Even the ones like myself, sleepy with champagne, curled up in the corner, fighting to stay awake. I’m going to make it this year, I swear! That will be my one and only resolution! 

New Year's Crostini
Yields 16
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Ingredients
  1. For the Squash Crostini
  2. 1/2 French baguette, sliced into 8 ½ inch pieces
  3. 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  4. 2 ½ cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 2-3 Tbsp. honey
  7. 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  8. 1/3 cup ricotta
  9. 8 sage leaves
  10. Beet chips, pine nuts, or walnuts for topping, optional
  11. For the Jamón Serrano Crostini
  12. 1/2 French baguette, sliced into 8 ½ inch pieces
  13. 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  14. 1/3 cup plain goat cheese
  15. 1 bosc pear, halved and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
  16. 3 oz. Jamón Serrano, divided into 8 portions
  17. Fresh thyme, optional
  18. Honey, optional
Instructions
  1. Make the Squash Crostini
  2. Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Peel butternut squash and remove pulp and seeds. Dice into ½ cubes.
  4. Arrange on baking sheet and toss with salt, pepper, honey, and balsamic.
  5. Roast until soft and tender.
  6. Meanwhile, on medium heat, melt butter in a large non-stick skillet. Swirl the pan to make sure there is an even coating of butter.
  7. Add in sage leaves and cook until crisp, about 1-2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  8. Next add in sliced French bread and grill until golden and crisp. You can grill the other side if you’d like, but may need to add in more butter.
  9. Spread about 2 tsp. ricotta on each slice of bread. Top with about 2 tsp. squash, one sage leaf and beet chip shard or nuts if using.
  10. Make the Jamón Serrano Crostini
  11. In a large non-stick skillet melt butter on medium heat. Swirl the pan to make sure there is an even coating of butter.
  12. Next add in sliced French bread and grill until golden and crisp. You can grill the other side if you’d like, but may need to add in more butter.
  13. Spread about 2 tsp. goat cheese on each slice of bread. Top with two slices of pear, Jamón, thyme, and a drizzle of honey, if using.
  14. Eat and repeat!
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