This Cider-Braised Squash on Ricotta Toast Is Peak Fall

updated Sep 25, 2019
Ricotta Toast with Cider-Braised Squash

Butternut squash is braised with apple cider, whole grain mustard, vinegar, and a pinch of brown sugar until tender, then piled atop ricotta toast for a sweet bite.

Serves6 to 12

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 30 minutes

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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

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Sure, I’m looking forward to pulling out my cozy sweaters and curling up with a steaming mug of tea soon. But what excites me the most about this season is the arrival of winter squash. It’s only officially been fall for a few days, but I’ve already roasted some wedges of kabocha squash, bookmarked this recipe for delicata squash, and devoured the cider-braised butternut squash recipe I’m sharing below — twice.

I love this dish. It’s packed with fall flavors. Cubes of squash and shallots are sautéd in nutty brown butter before being braised in a flavorful mixture of apple cider (jugs of which just started appearing at the farmers market!), whole grain mustard, dark brown sugar, and cider vinegar. The ingredient list is uncluttered for a reason: Each ingredient balances the others out to create a glazed, almost jammy squash that’s a little bit sweet, a little bit savory, and utterly irresistible.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

A Fast & Flavorful Way to Cook Butternut Squash

This is sort of a cheater’s braise — instead of cooking the squash at a low temperature for a long time, you give it a quick sauté in the brown butter until it’s almost tender, then simmer it uncovered in the apple cider mixture until the cider is reduced to a glaze. It cooks much faster this way, with equally delicious results — which I consider a win for a vegetable that can take up to 40 minutes to roast in the oven.

You can eat the squash as a side dish, but I like to pile it on top of thick slices of toasted, buttery bread that I’ve slathered first with creamy ricotta cheese. Pair it with a side salad, and you’ve got the best vegetarian fall dinner I know how to make. Or, serve slices to guests as a dinner party appetizer.

Ricotta Toast with Cider-Braised Squash

Butternut squash is braised with apple cider, whole grain mustard, vinegar, and a pinch of brown sugar until tender, then piled atop ricotta toast for a sweet bite.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 6 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    small butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds), or 1 1/4 pounds pre-cut cubes (about 5 cups)

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 5 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup

    apple cider or unfiltered apple juice

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed dark brown sugar or maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon

    whole-grain mustard

  • 1 tablespoon

    balsamic or apple cider vinegar

  • 6 (1-inch thick) slices

    crusty bread

  • 12 ounces

    whole-milk ricotta cheese (1 1/2 cups)

  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Peel, seed, and chop 1 small butternut squash into 1/2-inch cubes, if needed (about 5 cups). Halve and thinly slice 1 large shallot.

  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until golden brown and nutty smelling, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash, shallot, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, and several grinds pepper and stir until the squash and shallots are evenly coated with the butter. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out 1 cup apple cider in a 2 cup or larger liquid measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, and 1 tablespoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar and whisk with a fork to combine.

  3. Pour the apple cider mixture over the squash. Cook, maintaining a rapid simmer and stirring often, until the liquid is mostly evaporated and squash is very tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  4. Cut 6 (1-inch thick) slices crusty bread, then cut each piece in half. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the slices in a single layer and cook ,flipping once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a large platter. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and bread. (Alternatively, you can toast the bread in a toaster or broil in the oven).

  5. Spread 1 1/2 cups ricotta on the toasts, then top with squash. Top with a sprinkle of flaky salt and eat immediately.