Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Monday, October 22, 2012

From a culinary standpoint November is a wonderful month. Like September, it's a bridge month in terms of produce as fall fruits and vegetables combine with the nutrient rich dark leafy greens of winter. One wonderful winter staple is brussels sprouts -- their most tasty and cheapest in the winter months, you can put together a spectacular side dish combing them with equally affordable butternut squash. This dish not only tastes absolutely amazing, but it presents just so beautifully on the plate and holiday table. I think I loved taking pictures of this as much as I did making and eating it!

Tender and sweet butternut squash pairs perfectly with savory and bitter brussels sprouts. Both are roasted to bring out each vegetables' truest flavor, the caramelization adding texture to each bite as well. Seasoning is super simple -- good course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on the course grind, all tossed with some good extra virgin olive oil. Vegetarians stop there. If you want to skyrocket this dish, go ahead and add the rendered crispy bacon and some garlic to the final toss.

This dish can be made in advance and rewarmed in an oven-proof casserole dish. It's perfect if you are charged with bringing over a side dish for the big Thanksgiving meal, or if you're hosting the big show yourself. Keep the bacon separate and toss it in right before serving to keep it nice and crispy. This dish goes beautifully with any roasted meats -- turkey, chicken, and pork most particular -- and is spectacular as leftovers with a fried egg on top.

Make as much or as little as you need. This recipe serves 4 people easily. Enjoy it and happy fall everyone!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
1 small butternut squash
1 lb brussels sprouts
about 3 Tbsp olive oil
course sea salt
freshly ground black pepper set on course grind
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crispy bacon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take the butternut squash and cut off the ends, then peel the tough outer skin until you expose the dark orange flesh. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise then scoop out the seeds. (you can roast the seeds to munch on later or discard them) Cut the squash into bite-sized pieces, roughly the same size as the brussels sprouts you're using; the idea is to have everything about the same size so it's easy to eat and looks pretty.

Toss in half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast in oven until tender and sides are caramelized, about 20 minutes (depending on your oven's strength, start checking around 15 minutes). Turn them over once or twice during the cooking process.

While the butternut squash roasts, prepare the sprouts. Take the sprouts and cut off the tough stems at the base of each sprout. Remove any discolored or broken leaves around the outer layers, then wash the sprouts. Cut them all in half lengthwise, then toss in remaining olive oil. Season again with salt and pepper to your taste. Layer out on a baking sheet (you can use the same one the squash is on after they're done; just remember to scrape off any parts that got stuck to the sheet so it doesn't burn!) and roast in oven until tender but still strong, about 25 minutes. You want a nice caramelization on them, so try not to turn them over too much during cooking; once or twice at most will do you just fine.

Combine the butternut squash and sprouts together in a serving bowl while still warm, and add the garlic. Give a good toss. Top with bacon if using and serve.

*To make crispy bacon, simply take about 2-3 pieces of applewood smoked bacon and dice into small pieces. Heat a saute pan on medium heat and add the bacon right into the dry pan; no need to add oil because the bacon will render its own fat to crisp in within a few moments. Stirring occasionally, cook the bacon until golden brown and crispy, turning down the flame if necessary so as not to burn. Should take around 4-5 minutes. Remove cooked bacon from the grease using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate or bowl lined with a paper towel to help the excess grease drain. Discard or save the bacon grease for vinaigrettes or other cooking. The bacon can be made hours in advance and simply stored at room temperature covered with a napkin or plastic wrap; or made the day before and refrigerated. But it does taste the best if made a couple of hours in advance at most.


MAS@TheGoodLife said...

I'm def going to make this for Thanksgiving.

MAS@TheGoodLife said...

I am making this for Thanksgiving. I love Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. I think I might add cauliflower too.