One Thanksgiving, before I was married, I volunteered to make side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner. Back then, I was an unsure cook without substantial kitchen knowledge. It was the biggest culinary undertaking I’d ever had to date. I aimed for classic. I hunted around through cookbooks and the internet and came up with about a half-dozen recipes. Among them was southern butternut squash.
Um, yea. It look years before I got anyone in the family to eat butternut squash again. That dish was uber-thick, uber-sweet custard. Yes, custard. I still hear about the horrors of that now and again. It was that bad. (Coincidentally, it’s highly rated on All Recipes. Go figure. Totally wasn’t for us though.)
I’ve played it safe with squash since then. Each year, I roast a butternut squash with a dab of butter, some maple syrup and some brown sugar. When it’s done, I scoop it out, mash lightly and serve. It’s easy. And it has predictably good results.
I am so done with predictable and safe though. It’s time to break out.
This recipe is anything but predictable. It’s packed with flavor. The sweet, salty combination really brings out the sweetness of the squash — in a good way. In fact, it’s so good that you might just want to eat it all yourself. Make extra.
- 2 1/2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
- 4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- salt and pepper
- Boil the butternut squash until fork tender, about 25 minutes.
- Drain the squash and set aside. Wipe out the pot, if necessary.
- Set pot over medium heat and warm. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Add the butternut squash and stir to combine. Use a potato masher to mash the squash. Add the maple syrup, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.