Butternut Squash Polenta Appetizers

Butternut Squash Polenta Appetizers Recipe

If you're putting together a more elegant Thanksgiving meal this year, consider these appetizers. They are a great conversation starter. The appetizers connect familiar holiday ingredients--roasted butternut squash and corn--in a wholly unique way.

The primary ingredient in the appetizer is a mash of butternut squash and fromage blanc. I nested the spread in a roll of grilled zucchini on top of pan-fried polenta medallions. For a nice contrast of texture and color, I garnished the elegant appetizers with honey-roasted nuts and a sprinkling of Italian parsley. 

I'm planning on serving 5 or 6 appetizers on Thanksgiving and will be sharing them as I make them throughout the month.


Yields: 18 appetizers

1 (24-ounce) package pre-cooked polenta, store-bought
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 zucchini
½ butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried sage
¾ cup fromage blanc (cream cheese or goat cheese), at room temperature
4 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 tablespoons honey-roasted nuts (your favorite kind), coarsely crushed


Prepping the butternutsquash: 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the seeds and the strings (if any). Place the cubes of butternut squash on a greased baking sheet with the sprig of thyme in the center. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with dried sage and 1 teaspoon salt. Roast for about 30 minutes until soft. Let cool.

Coarsely mash the butternut squash with the back of a fork and mix with the fromage blanc. You could also blend the mixture into a smooth paste in a food processor. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Grilling the zucchini:

Trim and slice the zucchini lengthwise, about ¼" thick. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit, then pat dry with paper towels. Brush a griddle pan with vegetable oil. Add the zucchini slices and cook on both sides until grilling marks are visible. Let cool. Cut the zucchini into 3-4" pieces.

For the crispy polenta:

Cut the polenta into 18 slices. (I used a circle cutter to shape smaller-sized medallions; but you could keep them larger if you like).

In a pan, heat the remaining vegetable oil. Add more oil if necessary. Pan-fry the polenta pieces until slightly golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate. 

Assembly time: 

When you're ready to serve, transfer the polenta medallions to a serving platter. Roll zucchini pieces on top of each polenta appetizer. Add a dollop of butternut squash spread. Cover with crushed honey-roasted nuts. Garnish with Italian parsley.

Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!


If you decide to serve the polenta rounds as an appetizer, it's preferable to serve them in serving spoons (Chinese porcelain spoons); the look is more elegant and they're easier for your guests to manage.


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 11, 2013.


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