Butternut Squash, Roasted Apple and Goats’ Cheese Dip

This is the dip that I rebelliously served to my girlfriends at our most recent girls’ night in. It’s crazy-simple and crazy-good with a hummussy smoothness and a sweet tanginess. Serve it in a bowl along side some fresh slices of baguette or spread some on toasted slices rubbed lightly with the cut side of a garlic clove.

Preheat oven to 375 F and take 4 oz of plain goats’ cheese out of the fridge to soften.

Place a whole unpeeled 2lb butternut squash onto a baking pan that has an edge. Jab the squash deeply several times with a sharp knife. Place into the pre-heated oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, core and quarter a large tart apple. Toss the apple with 1 tsp olive oil. When the timer beeps, add the apple quarters to the pan containing the butternut squash. Roast until everything is lightly browned and soft to the touch, about 35-45 minutes more (longer for a bigger squash).

Put the following into a food processor: the softened goats’ cheese, the roasted apple quarters, 2 finely chopped fresh sage leaves (use 1/4 tsp dried if necessary), 1/4 tsp salt, several grinds of black pepper and a large pinch of nutmeg. Blend together.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise (wear oven mitts if the squash is too hot to handle). Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard. Scoop the remaining flesh (but not the peel) into a bowl, you should have about 1.5 cups. Add 2 tbsp butter to the bowl of squash and mash with a fork until the butter has melted in.

Add the buttery squash to the roasted apple mixture in the food processor. Puree until it is smooth and has an even creamy-peach color.

Taste for seasoning. You want to taste the pepper but you do not want the dip to be salty. Blend again if you’ve added seasoning.

Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve garnished with chopped almonds, hazelnuts or pecans (toasted, if possible) alongside sliced baguette or spread it onto garlicky toasts and garnish each with a sprinkle of the chopped nuts.

You could also use this mixture to stuff dates, following this method by the glorious Giada. These dates are great with or without the prosciutto, but do put a few grains of chopped nuts into each date along with the butternut filling.

The fresh tang of the apple in this little appetizer pairs well with a glass of dry bubbly Cava. Alternatively, try  a rich glass of Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend. The touches of vanilla and mocha in the wine enhance the sweetness of the squash and the creaminess of the cheese.

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