Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

This was our first Christmas in North Carolina and we opted to stay put this year and not travel to see family. Some friends invited us to join their family Christmas lunch and, when I asked what I could bring, they requested another veggie. Their meal was already going to be delicious - beef tenderloin, crab bisque, green beans, cranberry relish, mac and cheese, and a bajillion homemade desserts. I thought a simple roasted squash would be the perfect addition.

I'm the type of person who tries out new recipes for company. I know, I know... thankfully, this recipe not only didn't bomb, it was actually really delicious! Roasting is my #1 way of preparing veggies (esp in the winter) and of course anything roasted alongside pancetta, sage, and garlic can't be wrong.

Don't push these off as holiday only; they would be perfect paired with just about any main course. If you just grab a package of already peeled and cubed butternut squash at the store, this recipe becomes ridiculously easy. (Those packages are typically 2 pounds worth; pictured above is 4 pounds).

Who would turn their nose up to vegetables that taste like candy? {plus they're pretty!}

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
1 large butternut squash OR 1 2-pound package already cubed butternut squash
1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
16 whole fresh sage leaves

Preheat oven to 400°.

Peel and seed butternut squash and then cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes. Place squash and whole unpeeled garlic cloves in a baking dish or sheet pan large enough to hold them all in one layer. Toss with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash begins to brown, turning once during baking.

Sprinkle pancetta and sage leaves evenly over squash and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until squash and garlic are tender and caramelized. Squeeze garlic cloves out of their peel before serving. Season to taste and serve hot.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten

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