Vegetable Kaleidoscope [Caramelized Onion, Butternut Squash & Apple Toasts]

Since my handsome Mr GL started Horticulture Industries, our apartment has been slowly filling up with precious little gem he’s picked from the school garden. Huge red peppers so sweet they taste like they’ve been dipped in honey, red onions so potent your eyes water when you merely glace in their direction and carrots big enough to knock a grown man out with. 

Recently, the class harvested the garden and I was the proud recipient of a massive garbage bag bulging with a kaleidoscope of colourful produce. It was one of the more exciting things I’ve seen in the last little while and I greedily dove into the bag, yanking out vegetable after vegetable, dirt coating the countertops and floors leaving  clean outlines of the carrots I’d pulled out first. Never before have I been so excited by the contents of a garbage bag. 

The most prized vegetable pulled from the santa-sack of goodies was the behemoth butternut squash. I’ve seen a few home-grown squash but nothing like this before. When I asked Mr. GL what they did to have such success in the garden, he claims it’s because it’s all organic. My guess is that they have secret elves that tend the garden around the clock to protect it from the squirrels, drought & heavy winds we’ve been burdened by this summer. I know I’m right.

I made these toasts with that elf-grown squash as well as an onion from the Algonquin College garden. These are perfect for a light dinner with a nice glass of wine, or as an easy appetizer that’s sure to put a smile on your Thanksgiving/Holiday season guests! 

Caramelized Onion, Butternut Squash & Apple Toasts with Aged Lankkaster & Balsamic Syrup
makes 6 toasts (10-12 if using a baguette)

Aged Lankkaster is sold at The Red Apron, a gourmet food shop whose focus is on getting families back to the table by creating healthy, homemade meals delivered right to your door. Lankkaster is a local cheese, but you can buy an aged gouda if you’re unable to find it. Alternatively, a well aged cheddar would work nicely. 

1 medium sized yellow or spanish onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter (alternatively, a 3rd tbsp of olive oil instead of butter)
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 granny smith apples, peeled (optional) and cut into 1” chunks
1/8 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground if possible
pinch of allspice, optional
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of light rye or whole wheat bread
1/2 cup crumbled Aged Lankkaster
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh sage, thyme or rosemary, chopped (for garnish)

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add the onions, stirring every so often, until starting to turn golden brown. 10-15 minutes. Add the diced squash, apple, nutmeg and pinch of allspice and stir into onions. Let cook until squash and apples are fork-tender, another 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste. 

When you’ve got about 10 minutes left, pour the balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and let simmer until reduced by half, about 7-8 minutes. It will thicken up a touch when it cools. Drizzle the sliced bread with olive oil and toast in the oven until golden brown. 

Spoon vegetable mixture over toasts, sprinkle with crumbled cheese and a drizzle of the balsamic syrup. Garnish with fresh herbs. 

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