>Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites: the Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer

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ravioli appetizer
Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites before Thanksgiving Dinner

When most people think of Thanksgiving, they picture a golden turkey or mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes. but those aren’t my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. When I head to my Mother in Law’s Thanksgiving dinner, my mouth is watering for her pre-dinner appetizers: her mushroom roll-ups, pigs in blanket, and potato knishes that everyone nibbles on before sitting down to the serious business of eating. We always spend an hour or two just mingling, catching up, reconnecting and seeing what everyone’s been up to for the last year. That can take a while as our Thanksgiving party is usually around 40 people.

It might be the conversation more than the finger foods, but those little bites have come to define Thanksgiving for me over the years, especially as there are never any appetizer leftovers. They’re here, they’re hot, and they’re gone until next year.

Assembling the Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites is easy, even fun.

Last week, I made an appetizer that will be a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving gathering: Caramelized Pecan Roasted Squash Bites. The lightly crunchy shell yields to a rich, sweet filling. It’s impossible to limit yourself to just one. And I’ll probably have to make them again come Christmas time, just to show off my latest party trick.

I made a few variations on the roasted squash and nut base by topping some with a chunk of blue cheese and others with a little prosciutto. The kids loved the sweet plain squash bites and the adults loved the subtle complexity of the blue cheese and the prosciutto ones.

The filling can be made ahead of time and kept either in the refrigerator or the freezer to cut down on your Thanksgiving Day prep. For the dough, I used store-bought wonton wrappers. They were easy to work with and required no dough prep on my part, a great way to cut down on the Thanksgiving Day cooking.

I wrapped the sweet filling in wonton wrappers and pan fried them in batches in a little butter. The wontons can either be assembled ahead of time and kept in an airtight container, or assembled right there before you fry them. They take seconds to assemble. Just fill, wet one side, and press closed like an Asian ravioli. I put my 4 year old to work to assemble them and she had a blast.

Butter working its magic once again with these Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites.

Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites
Servings: 30 bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (including roasting squash)
Ingredients:
For the Filling:
2 butternut squash, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
salt, pepper
3/4 cups of chopped pecans
3 tablespoons of salted butter
1/4 cups of brown sugar
For the Bites
1 package of wonton wrappers
3 slices of prosciutto (optional)
1/4 cups of crumbled blue cheese (optional)
a little bowl of water
3 tablespoons of salted butter

TO MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the squash into evenly sized cubes, about 1 1/2 inches in width, removing any tough outer skin and seeds.
  3. Mix the squash pieces with the olive oil and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for an hour, or until soft, but not burnt. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. In a medium frying pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the pecans and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until lightly caramelized and toasted.
  5. Put the squash pieces and the pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse into blended into a puree that still has small chunks of pecans. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the bites.

TO MAKE THE BITES:

  1. Remove the wonton wrappers from the package and spread in a single layer on a cutting board.
  2. Place a small mound of filling in the middle of each wonton wrapper.
  3. Optional – top some or all of the filling mounds with either blue cheese or prosciutto.
  4. Moisten two edges of the wonton wrapper with a little water. 
  5. Fold the wonton wrapper in a half, in a triangle shape, by putting a dry edge onto a wet edge and squeezing shut. It’s important to not put too much filling or it will ooze out and prevent the wonton from sealing properly.
  6. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. Add the wonton raviolis in the pan in a single layer, in batches so as to not crowd the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until crispy and light brown. Serve immediately.
  7. NOTE: I also tried to boil the wontons to make a quick and easy homemade ravioli dish. They held up and cooked without coming undone, but they looked horrible and tasted chewy. I don’t even want to show you a picture. I should have tried to steam them as well, but the pan fried version was just too good and I simply had to eat them all without further experimenting.

One Response to >Caramelized Pecan Squash Bites: the Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer

  1. >These sound incredible! A pre-spread before the big spread sounds like a fabulous thanksgiving tradition to me. :-)

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