Sweet and salty, a combination characteristic of the best snacks, comes through in this simply winning side dish.
Pumpkin gets a lot of publicity. When fall hits (or even in anticipation of its arrival), pumpkin recipes start popping up everywhere. Halloween and the Pumpkin Spice Latte further popularize the vegetable. I like pumpkin and eat it regularly this time of year, and I’ve found which varieties are the most flavorful, make the best pie etc. All that said, there are so many other varieties of winter squash with more to offer than pumpkin.
Take butternut squash, for instance. Its sweetness is superior, and it’s far easier to work with. Prepping a pumpkin can be a challenge unless you’re roasting the halves to make a puree. Butternut squash, on the other hand, is easily peeled and cubed, giving it a wider culinary range.
Butternut squash’s sweet flavor and ease of prep make it the superlative choice for this dish. The oven temperature is bumped up halfway through cooking so the squash caramelizes and further sweetens. The squash is then tossed with a generous amount of crispy, salty bacon for a gratifying flavor and texture contrast.
Caramelized butternut squash with bacon
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- 4 to 6 slices bacon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin from the butternut squash until you reach bright orange flesh. Cut off the top and bottom 1/4 inch of the squash, then cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and pulp. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.
- Add the squash to a large baking dish, drizzle it with the olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat the squash. Bake for 15 minutes, then increase the temperature to 425 degrees F. Continue baking until the squash is tender and beginning to brown at the edges, for about 20 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the bacon to a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the bacon until it is brown on one side, flip it and fry it until the other side is brown and crispy. Move the bacon to a plate or paper towel until the butternut squash is cooked. (Reserve the bacon fat for another use, such as sauteeing vegetables or making smoky bacon popcorn.)
- Crumble the bacon over the caramelized butternut squash and stir to combine. Serve warm.