Squash toast can be served as an appetizer on crostini, as a brunch offering, or as an open-faced sandwich, as in the photo. It is hearty, filling, and packed with healthy ingredients. After you’ve diced the vegetables, the rest is easy and quick to put together. Try to get the cheese made a day in advance for it to develop its best flavor. Commercial dairy-free cream cheese, such as Tofutti, is also an option.


3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 handful fresh sage leaves

1 pound (3 cups) butternut squash, ¼-inch dice

¾ cup diced onion

2 Tbsp. brandy (optional)

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

4 big slices rustic whole-grain bread

Cashew cream cheese (recipe follows)

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Fry the sage leaves in the oil in a single layer for about 10 minutes, turning them with tongs. Remove them to drain on a paper towel on a plate.

2. In the same sauté pan, and in the remaining oil, sauté the diced squash and onions for about 15 minutes, until well caramelized. Salt them very lightly while cooking, and cover the pan to help retain the moisture. Stir now and then to prevent burning.

3. Add the brandy to the pan and cook and stir for another 2 minutes.

4. Add the balsamic, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 2 minutes on low heat, using the back of your spoon to mash the vegetables just a little so they cohere.

5. Toast the bread and then spread it liberally with the cream cheese. You might not use all of it.

6. Top with the squash mixture. Garnish with the sage leaves and a sprinkling of flaky salt.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.