Squash and apple are time-honored culinary companions, and this dish shows why. The squash is mellow, the apple is tart and together they make for a filling and satisfying sandwich.
Executive chef Tony Chittum pairs this with Butternut Squash Soup at his Vermilion Restaurant in Alexandria (see related recipe).
- 1 medium (2 to 3 pounds) butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the arugula
- Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 loaf (14 to 16 ounces) ciabatta bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces baby arugula
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup ricotta cheese, preferably fresh
- 1/2 cup apple butter
- 4 Granny Smith apples, cored, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Have at hand a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the sliced squash in a single layer.
Peel the squash and cut it in half from top to bottom. Remove and discard the seeds (or save for another use), then cut each squash half into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the thyme and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to evenly coat.
Arrange the squash on the baking sheet; roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until it becomes caramelized and soft. Let the squash cool; discard the garlic. Leave the oven on.
Cut the ciabatta loaf in half horizontally. Spread the cut sides with the butter, then place the bread cut sides up on a baking sheet; toast in the (425-degree) oven for about 2 minutes, until crisp and light golden brown on the outside but still soft in the middle.
Place the arugula in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and the lemon juice, and toss to coat the leaves.
When the squash has cooled, spread the cut side of one half of the bread with the ricotta and spread the other half with the apple butter. Layer the squash slices over the bottom half of the loaf, then the apple slices, then the arugula. Cover with the top of the ciabatta loaf. Cut crosswise into 8 equal-size sandwiches and serve.
From executive chef Tony Chittum of Vermilion Restaurant in Alexandria.
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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