1. SWEET POTATO ROUNDS WITH HERBED RICOTTA AND WALNUTS
1 large sweet potatoes, sliced in ¼-inch rounds
Grapeseed or olive oil
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1-½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 cup raw walnuts, roasted and chopped
¾ cup dried cranberries
Add all of the ingredients for the herbed ricotta to a small bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add the sweet potato slices to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt and ground cinnamon over rounds. Use your hands to rub the oil and seasoning on both sides of the sweet potato rounds. Arrange rounds on a large baking sheet (or two if necessary). Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the rounds, then bake for another 17 to 20 minutes, or until rounds are cooked through and crispy on the edges
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. 10 minutes before the potato rounds are finished cooking, place the walnuts in the oven to roast.
Remove sweet potato rounds and walnuts from the oven. Place walnuts on a cutting board and chop.
Place oven on high broil setting and move the oven rack second to the top shelf. Place a dollop of herbed ricotta on each sweet potato round and place in the oven for 2 minutes, just until ricotta is melty and warm.
Add chopped walnuts and dried cranberries to the rounds. Drizzle with honey and serve!
2. ROASTED GRAPE CROSTINI WITH GOAT CHEESE AND WALNUTS
4 cups red grapes
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ cup crumbed fresh goat cheese
24 slices baguette, lightly toasted
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon honey
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat a large glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Stir grapes, oil, salt, thyme and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread out in one layer in the baking dish. Roast, stirring occasionally until wrinkled and caramelized, 48 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the grapes, and stir to coat. Set aside.
Spread goat cheese on the baguette, dividing equally. Top with the grape mixture. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with honey.
3. HAVARTI, PEAR, AND WALNUT PUFF PASTRY BITES
2 sheets ready-to-bake puff pastry sheets
Pear Chutney (recipe below)
1 (7-ounce) package Havarti Cheese, sliced into bite-sized pieces
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped**
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon water
for the Pear Chutney
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 pears, ripe but still firm, ¼" dice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Defrost puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 425°F.
Roll out puff pastry sheets and cut each sheet into 9 squares (18 squares total between the two sheets). Place squares on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper (this will prevent sticking).
Place a piece of havarti cheese, a spoonful of pear chutney, a few chopped walnuts, a very light sprinkle of fresh thyme, and a drizzle of honey in the center of each puff pastry square. Although it's tempting, don't overfill or else it will be very difficult to seal edges.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water to create an egg wash. Brush egg wash around the perimeter of each pastry square and carefully fold dough over filling to create triangles, pinching edges closed to create a good seal.
Generously brush the top of each puff pastry bite with egg wash and sprinkle with Kosher salt and chopped fresh thyme. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown. Devour immediately.
for the Pear Chutney
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, season with Kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in pear, thyme, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. Season with Kosher salt and cook until pears are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-10 minutes. If pears are not tender and mixture is too dry (starting to stick to pan), add a little water and continue to cook until pears are tender.
**To toast whole walnuts, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook in a 375°F oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 7-9 minutes. Keep a constant eye on them as they can burn easily.
***You can freeze the assembled uncooked pastry bites in a single layer on a baking sheet at this point. Once frozen, place in a ziploc bag and they will keep for a couple of months. When ready to bake, apply egg wash and season with Kosher salt and fresh thyme. Puff pastry bites may be baked frozen or you can thaw first in refrigerator. If baking from frozen, it will just require a little longer in oven. .
4. ROASTED BALSAMIC CRANBERRY BRIE CROSTINI
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ a french baguette, sliced thin
12 ounces fresh cranberries
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon rosemary
4 ounces triple cream brie
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and olive oil. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with mixture and line them up on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In another small bowl, stir together the cranberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and rosemary. Spread these out on a rimmed baking sheet. (They get pretty sticky, so if you want to avoid scrubbing, line the pan with parchment paper).
Place the cranberries in the oven.
Roast for five minutes, then add the tray of baguette slices to the oven. Roast for an additional 6 minutes then remove the baguette slices, flip them over, and return to the oven for another 4-6 minutes, or until crispy and golden. At this point, the cranberries should be popped open with juices running out. Remove both the cranberries and baguette slices from the oven.
Top each baguette with a slice of brie and a spoonful of cranberries. Garnish with thyme if desired. These can be served while the cranberries are still warm, or you can make the components ahead of time. The cranberries can be chilled overnight and the crostini will keep in a zip lock bag.
Simply assemble and serve at room temperature when you're ready!