MAPLE SQUASH FOCACCIA
A variation on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Squash on Toast
For the focaccia bread, get pre-made pizza dough from your favorite pizzeria, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or the freezer section of your local supermarket. Alternatively, get a pre-baked Boboli pizza crust. Note: If using frozen dough, remember to defrost it in advance.
• 1 medium kabocha squash (2 1/2-3 lbs) or other sweet winter squash, such as butternut
• 1/2 c. olive oil plus extra for drizzling
• 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
• 1 yellow onion
• 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 c. maple syrup
• Coarse sea salt
• 4 tbsp. fresh chopped mint
For dairy lovers: ricotta cheese. For vegans: creamy cannellini bean puree made with 1 can of beans, 1/4 c. of olive oil, 1-2 tsp. of lemon juice & salt to taste.
1) Bake the pizza dough, following the instructions provided. When done, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and return to the oven for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
2) Turn the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3) Peel and seed the squash and cut it into pieces, 1/4 inch thick or less. Toss it in a bowl with the olive oil, pepper flakes and 2 tsp. of salt. Then spread it out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or more until tender and slightly colored. Set aside.
4) While the squash is cooking, prepare the onion mixture. Peel and thinly slice the onion and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. Sauté in 1/4 c. oil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes or more until limp and deeply colored. Stir in the vinegar and syrup and cook for another 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Watch for burning and lower the heat if necessary.
5) Mix the squash and onions with a fork till they're well combined and season to taste. Spread on the bread and sprinkle with the mint. Serve any extra in a bowl at the table along with the optional condiments.
Note: If not serving till later, hold off on the mint and wrap loosely with wax paper. Just before mealtime, warm for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven and then add the mint.
Time: 1 hour plus 30-45 minutes to roll out and bake the dough.
Yield: 1 focaccia (8 servings)
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Sheryl Eisenberg is a writer, web developer and long-time advisor to NRDC. With her firm, Mixit Productions (mixitproductions.com), she brought NRDC online in 1996, designed NRDC's first websites, and continues to develop special web features for NRDC. She created and, for several years, wrote the Union of Concerned Scientists' green living column, Greentips, and has designed and contributed content to many nonprofit sites. Sheryl makes her home in Brooklyn, where—along with her family—she tries to put her environmental principles into practice. No fooling.