September 26th, 2016
Entertaining around the holidays demands a bit of glitz and glamor in the appetizer department; though this shouldn’t mean added stress. Fussy, precious, ultra-dainty appetizers are best left for baby showers and wedding parties. Around the holidays, I like to relax (well, as much as humanly possible), make a bit of a mess, and eat a touch more greedily—hearty, rustic crostini check every box on my wish list. These get the tiger tail treatment with reduced balsamic, providing both beauty and a caramel contrast to briny feta, buttery avocado, and earthy maple-roasted pumpkin.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add squash, maple syrup, oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper; toss to combine. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until squash is tender and beginning to caramelize. Leave oven on.
Meanwhile, for the balsamic glaze, add balsamic to a medium saucepan (turn on your oven vent so you don’t choke on the vinegar fumes!), bring to a boil, and continue to boil until thick and reduced (stay back!), about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat to rest for a few minutes; transfer balsamic glaze to a heatproof glass jar. Once cool, seal jar and store in the pantry for a couple of years (yes, years).
Line bread up on a clean, large-rimmed baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven until crispy and golden brown (times vary depending on your oven—keep an eye on it). Transfer toasted bread to a large cutting board and rub each slice with garlic, using the crunchy interior as sandpaper to dissolve the garlic.
Top bread with roasted pumpkin and mash with a fork. Top mashed pumpkin with avocado, feta, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. If your bread is large, slice in half with a serrated knife. Transfer crostini to a serving platter. Serve immediately.