(Note: this post was originally published on December 22, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Who else loves finger food???
In my opinion, there's nothing more fun than a finger food party or date night. I love how casual and intimate finger food is. It's definitely my favorite way to entertain AND our favorite way to do a simple Friday evening at home. But most finger foods aren't very good for the body and many aren't veggie-friendly either... think things like pizza, wings, etc.
Today I want to introduce you to a really simple, delicious, veggie-forward appetizer: these roasted kabocha squash "dippers". They're just as satisfying as dunking chips, but way more nourishing. I don't eat meat, but I guess the most appropriate analogy is that they're sort of like wings (??) in that they're big, hearty, and begging to be slathered with your favorite dip.
Roast up a big pan of these and you'll be set for all your gatherings. These are hot, filling, infinitely customizable, and are sure to be a hit.
In terms of flavors, the sky is the limit. Basically, you have three opportunities here to infuse flavor. My suggestion is to capitalize on all three, and to find a flavor profile that makes sense together. You can infuse flavor through (1) spicing the squash while it roasts, (2) garnishing the squash after roasting, and (3) choosing one or a few dips to pair with it.
By spicing, I mean whatever spices (in addition to salt and pepper) you want to roast the squash in. And by garnishing, I mean whatever fresh items you want to add at the end, including herbs, citrus, nuts, or seeds. For the dip(s), go crazy!
Here are a few ideas to get you started, but you can really borrow flavors from any culture, dish, or event you can imagine.
I've made these many, many times and have a few tips to pass along. First, you can easily make a LOT of these if you get two or three squashes. It's a great way to feed a crowd. I'd assume that a medium-sized kabocha squash will feed two or three people for a meal, or half a dozen people for appetizers. Multiply as needed. You could even make a couple different platters with a couple different dips.
This also works in the air fryer, if you have one! The benefit is that it cooks very quickly; I do mine at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. So fast! However you can't fit nearly as many in there, so it's a better option if you're only making these for a couple people.
Thankfully, this dish is pretty friendly for preparing in advance. You can easily cut the squash and prep your dips in advance, then just roast the squash half an hour before your guests are going to arrive. You can also roast the squash ahead of time and reheat in the microwave, but it's really best right out of the oven, so I don't suggest going to microwave route unless necessary. Add your garnishes after you cook (or reheat) the squash.
Conversely, you can serve these dippers cold or room temperature for a warmer-weather event, in which case you can certainly cook the squash the day before and keep it in the fridge.
This is really more of a concept than a specific recipe. See the ideas above for how to flavor your squash and pair it with different dips! But here's the rough outline of what you'll need:
As you can see above, this is such a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish. You can make it to fit just about any occasion and any dietary need. Because of that, I've found myself making this again and again throughout the fall and winter, and even cold versions during the summer. I love that these squash dippers are way more nutritious than many classic appetizers, and I love how delicious and cozy they are.
These squash dippers are definitely a hearty appetizer. While many finger foods aren't terribly filling or satisfying, these can easily serve as the centerpiece of a meal, especially if you pair them with a protein-rich dip like hummus.
I'm already excited for my next opportunity to make these!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
A delightfully hearty finger-food, these squash dippers are infinitely customizable by using different flavors and different dips. Bonus: they're much better for the body than most finger foods! Who needs wings when you have these??