Are you looking for the right side dish to serve with your Christmas dinner? This maple butternut squash has a kick of cayenne and is paired with the crunch of toasted pecans and salty pancetta.
This side dish pairs perfectly with honey baked ham, roasted turkey or tenderloin beef. Butternut squash is in season and cooks up quickly making this the perfect vegetable side for your holiday dinner.
The addition of salty pancetta, crunchy toasted pecans, sweet maple syrup, savory sage, and the kick from a sprinkle of cayenne pepper makes this the most talked about dish at your holiday table.
Chop up your butternut squash or purchase it already cubed. If you’re not a fan of pecans, pick up walnuts. They work just as deliciously. Can’t find pancetta? Substitute bacon in its place.
Now true maple syrup adds the right amount of sweetness to the already sweet butternut squash. But don’t overdo it. Also if you like it extra spicy, increase your cayenne pepper.
Be sure to remove the butternut squash from the oven when it is fork tender. Any longer and it will become mushy. As soon as it’s done serve it, even if it’s at room temperature. And do not cover it with tin foil. You don’t want mushy squash.
Need another vegetable side dish? Be sure to check out my recipe for Prosciutto Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.
Maple Cayenne Butternut Squash with Pancetta & Pecans
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Toast the pecans on a baking sheet for about 3-5 minutes being careful to watch them closely so they don't burn. Remove from the oven to cool. Allow the oven to preheat to 425°F.
- Fry the pancetta on the stovetop until crispy. Transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate.
- In a baking dish toss together the squash, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, melted butter and salt. Bake for 25 minutes or until the squash is fork soft. Mix in the pancetta, chopped sage and pecans.