I could make a meal out of appetizers, but I rarely order them at a restaurant. In fact, I just paused for about five minutes to consider what appetizers I do order.
Most recently, I ate wontons. I sometimes crave spring rolls. This post is not an advertisement for a restaurant, but the Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill call my name when I walk through its doors.
Maybe I like appetizers because most of them are just giant-sized snacks. Nachos, quesadillas, chicken fingers…. As someone who tends to graze throughout the day rather than eat three square meals, maybe I prefer appetizers because I have an affinity for snacks. Who knows.
If you need to assemble a quick appetizer for a holiday gathering or are thinking ahead to your Superbowl party (no one is thinking ahead to their Superbowl party, but I will plant that seed), this appetizer deserves consideration.
I had to bring something to a party this weekend, and I could not for the life of me decide what to bring. The main dish and sides were covered. Salad was on the menu. I was staring dessert in the eye. I chose an appetizer.
An appetizer that is easy to assemble. It tastes delicious. It looks pretty. Calling for a small amount of pumpkin puree (just 1/4 cup), it is the perfect way to use up the inevitable amount of pumpkin left when you crack open a can of puree to bake the pumpkin desserts we all love.
At the end of the day, this little appetizer pleased half a dozen people, so I feel safe proclaiming it a winner. Enjoy!
Spiced Pumpkin Cheese Crostini
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup hazlenuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
10-15 sage leaves
- Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, flip the toasts over and bake 7 minutes more.
- While the bread is in the oven, stir together the mascarpone, pumpkin, pepper, salt, and nutmeg.
- Next place the chopped hazelnuts in a skillet over medium low heat and toast until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Stir the nuts regularly to ensure they do not burn while toasting (once the nuts start to toast, the time between toast and burn happens fast). Remove the nuts from the skillet to cool.
- Now it is time to toast the sage. In the skillet you just used, melt the tablespoon of butter. Once melted, add the sage leaves and fry until crisp and somewhat golden, flipping the leaves as needed during frying. Transfer the fried sage leaves to a paper towel to drain and cool, then crumble them between your fingers.
- At some point during the nut toasting and sage leaf frying, the bread most likely finished toasting and you removed it from the oven to cool.
- Assemble the crostini by spreading the mascarpone-pumpkin mixture over a piece of toasted bread, then sprinkling a bit of chopped hazlenuts and crumbled sage leaves over the top. Repeat this process until all of the bread and/or spread is depleted.
The number of sage leaves you need will vary wildly just as the size of sage leaves vary wildly.