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Pear and Squash Brushetta

The hearty combination of pears and squash makes the perfect seasonal appetizer. Bring it to your next holiday party and watch it disappear! 

1 butternut squash (1–½ pounds)
2 yellow onions (about 1 pound), coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 sage leaves
3 ripe pears, cored and cut into half-inch cubes
½ pound loaf sourdough bread
¼ pound smoked ricotta or smoked mozzarella cheese
½ pound loaf sourdough bread
Pumpkin seed oil or extra virgin olive oil

Peel squash. Combine squash trimmings, onion, and carrots in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes or until liquid is flavorful, adding additional water to keep about 3 cups liquid in pan. Strain. Reserve liquid and discard solids.

Scrape seeds from squash and discard. Cut squash into ½-inch cubes. Heat olive oil and butter in a large shallow pan. Add sage and fry for 30 seconds or until crisp and fragrant. Remove sage with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towel and reserve for garnish. Add squash and pears to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until just starting to brown. Add 1 cup of the squash stock and cook until reduced. Repeat, using about 3 cups stock. Pears and squash should be soft but still hold shape. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, slice bread into ½-inch slices. Toast in oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spoon about ¼ cup warm pear-squash mixture onto each slice of bruschetta. Using a vegetable peeler, make ribbons of cheese and place on top of each. Drizzle with pumpkin seed or olive oil if desired. Garnish servings with fried sage.

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