Butternut Squash Crostini

Maybe these were not the most appropriate choice for dinner at a friend's place to watch football, but damn they were tasty. Every bite had tremendous flavor - earthiness from the crispy fried sage, luscious sweetness from the butternut squash, creaminess from the ricotta (cut by lemon zest) and finally the crunch of a lightly toasted piece of baguette. I could've eaten all of them by myself, if left to my own devices. The butternut squash is so naturally sweet when roasted that next time I might even leave out the brown sugar, but it certainly didn't hurt. Relied on this recipe, with a few tweaks.

Makes 20 pieces
Total time to cook: 40 minutes

1 1 lb butternut squash, diced into small pieces
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
30 sage leaves
1 cup ricotta cheese 
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 baguette, slice into 1/2-inch slices

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly grease it (I use olive oil-based cooking spray). 
- In a bowl, toss the butternut squash with two tablespoons of olive oil and the brown sugar until the pieces are fully coated. Arrange on a single layer on the baking sheet and season with the salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the pieces begin to caramelize and turn brown. 
- While the squash is roasting, mix the ricotta cheese and lemon zest in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a medium pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Fry the sage leaves until they start to turn a darker shade of green, or about a minute. Remove and drain on a paper down. 
- Toast the baguette pieces until they're crispy but not too brown. Let them cool.
- Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool. 
- When the squash and bread are room temperature, build the crostinis. Spread about one tablespoon of ricotta mixture, add a few pieces of squash and then crumble a piece or half of a piece of sage leaf on top.
- Serve at room temperature. 

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