Oven Roasted Autumn Squash with Candied Bacon & Fresh Herbs
Sinkology is proud to present Emily Schuermann, our food-loving guest blogger who runs Food for a Year. Emily is here to share some recipes she has created exclusively for the Sinkology blog that reflect her view of a copper sink: simple, timeless, affordable and beautifully rustic.
I have always loved November, and when I say “loved” in mean LOVED! That constant chill in the air, the perfect balance between days with bright blue skies and gray, dark cloudy skies, an endless string of sweater weather and then there is the food. Those family recipe favorites don’t appear nearly enough throughout the year, but in November – they come back in all of their delectable, comforting glory.
Speaking of food, it seems ((to me)) that most of the attention for the big meal goes to the main course: the bird. Not only is there the dark vs. white debate, there is deep fried vs. oven roasted, and my favorite: what to do with all of the leftovers.
But for me, it’s all about the sides. Stuffing, chicken & dumplings ((you may think “c & d” is a main dish – but when nestled beside a slab of turkey, it becomes a “side”, haha)), green beans ((trust me, these are not your average green beans!)), deviled eggs and mashed potatoes. Then there is the salad section: potato salad, apple salad, pistachio salad ((or, as we call it: green fluff “)), cranberry salad & Asian salad. Yes, there is a good reason I bring my stretchy pants to Thanksgiving dinner, ho hum.
Even with all of those yummy tried & true sides to indulge in, I am always looking for something new & different to bring to the table. And this, my friends is “the one”. First off, it is gorgeous – the Fall oranges, a sprinkling of green & that beautiful pop of red from the bacon, yes it is eye-catching. Then, there is a sweet & savory, herbed & smoky aroma that tells us this dish is more than just a pretty face. Last, the taste … well, we will get to that in a minute.
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk turkey ((sorry, that was really bad)). One of the biggest draw backs to cooking with butternut squash, or any of the fall & winter squashes, is peeling them. Really, if you aren’t careful, you could easily become a band-aid model by the end of that chore. As if the job weren’t hard enough already, the more you peel, the more slippery the squash become. If they weren’t so tasty & pretty, I would never mess with them.
That problem was my inspiration for this recipe. I am all about rustic, delicious and easy, and by simply slicing the UNPEELED squash into rings, the hardest part of any squash recipe is omitted. ((Now, you are using a sharp knife, so just because it is easy doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay attention to all ten of your fingers – at ALL times.)) I love the look of some full moons and some half moons, and isn’t that color pretty??
Leaving the peels on simplifies the preparation and adds to the rustic beauty of this dish. Now, I personally don’t like to eat the peels, but the task of cutting that portion off between bites is so much easier after the squash are roasted.
The acorn squash was a little more tricky to slice, and certainly not worth losing a finger over, so just cut it in half ((giving you a stable, flat edge)) and then slice.
Once all of the squash is sliced, arrange the pieces in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets and top with chopped, thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, brown sugar and a teaspoon of salt & pepper.
I used a blend of fresh herbs that I grow in my gardens. I highly recommend finding a sunny spot to grow thyme, chives & rosemary ((which are perennial in my zone)). I also keep oregano, parsley & mint in pots by my back door — and I have bushes and bushes of my favorite variety of sweet basil – “Emily’s Basil”. I save so much money by growing my own herbs ((and most of them are just grown by seed)) – so for pennies, I have access to the freshest, tastiest herbs that any 5 star chef would be thrilled to have.
For this recipe, I finely chopped:
- a few varieties of thyme
If you don’t have access to fresh herbs in November, just substitute a few pinches of dried herbs in place of the fresh herbs – but go sparingly, dried herbs are potent.
Sprinkle the chopped herb blend & sliced shallots over the squash and drizzle with a few teaspoons of canola oil. Next, pause briefly to enjoy just how pretty this arrangement of food is — it is like Fall on a baking sheet, with the bright oranges, touches of brown, pops of red and a hint of green poking through. It’s a masterpiece, well – even better than a masterpiece; it’s an edible work of art ((yay!!)).
Place the baking sheets in your preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and the brown sugar has caramelized.
Now for the hardest part of this recipe: restraining yourself from picking every last bit of crispy caramelized bacon off of the roasted squash before serving. Your sneaky snacking will not go undetected – the aroma filling your home has already alerted your guests to the promise of herbed, sweet & smoky bacon. So be strong, withstand the urge ((well, 2 or 3 bits won’t be missed, right?)).
Oh my. Those roasted herbs, crisp bacon and the sticky, sweet & slightly salty squash … I think it is the perfect bite.
Most certainly, this recipe is Thanksgiving feast worthy! Rustic, simple, gorgeous and delicious. There I go again, reminding myself of all the things I love about my copper farmhouse kitchen sink!
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1/2 lb thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 - 1 t ((of each)) kosher salt & black pepper
- 1 T oregano, finely chopped*
- 1 T chives, finely chopped*
- 1 T thyme, finely chopped*
- 2 t rosemary, finely chopped *
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 2-3 t canola oil
- Preheat oven to 400°, line two half-sheet sized baking sheets with parchment paper & set aside. Wash the exterior of the squash with warm, soapy water in order to remove any dirt from the skins. Using a sharp knife, slices the squash in round or half-round 1/4" sections. Once you have sliced through to the seeds, remove & discard seeds, taking care to leave the area string-free and continue slicing. Discard the top and bottom slices of each squash and arrange the remaining slices on the baking sheets in a single layer.
- Top the squash with remaining ingredients, taking care to spread and coat everything as evenly as possible.
- Place the baking sheets into the preheated oven. Bake until the squash is completely tender, the bacon has crisped and the brown sugar has caramelized, which takes approximately 40 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, rotate baking sheets to ensure even cooking. Keep a watchful eye on the roasting squash during the last 10 minutes of baking in order to be certain the bacon doesn't burn.
- * If you can't find fresh herbs this time of year, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs for each of the fresh herbs.