I don't know about you, but I often clip recipes or Pin them and then chicken out on the follow-through. As in, I like to think about them and look at the pretty pictures and imagine how wonderful that dish might taste. And then I don't cook it. Because what if it's a horrible flop? What if I waste food? It's easier to stick with the tried-and-true.
Pinterest: Where Inspiration Goes to Die.
But this past week, I was solo parenting, and the kids and I were going to have leftovers, again, and something rose up in my soul and said: I want to make something NEW and GOOD and HEALTHY. And I just happened to have a recipe on my counter I had cut out of Better Homes & Garden last weekend. And I just happened to have all the ingredients already, which an even bigger miracle. So I decided to do hard things and try something new and I got out my butternut squash and went to work. And lo, when I took that first bite, the heavens parted and the angels sang and OH MY WORD it was the best thing I'd eaten in months. I raved and wept and pleaded with my kids to "try this, you have to try it, it's amazing," but they scorned my offering. So I ate half the pan for dinner - that's one pound of butternut squash, for the record - and I groaned with joy the rest of the night.
If that isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is.
Maple-Glazed Butternut Squash with Clementines and Pancetta
Loosely adapted from Better Homes & Garden, November 2013
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 pounds butternut squash, cubed into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unpeeled, seeded clementines, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup orange juice
1. In a high-sided skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove pancetta to a paper towel to drain.
2. To drippings still in pan, add butter. Once melted, add squash. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until squash just starts to soften, around 2-3 minutes.
3. Add water, maple syrup, and salt to pan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Add clementines and juice and cook, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes more, until liquid has reduced slightly and both the squash and the orange slices are tender.
4. Transfer to a serving dish or plate up and top with pancetta and cracked black pepper.
1. This recipe marks my first time ever cooking with pancetta. I just happened to have some in my fridge from a gift basket Corey received. And it was amazing. But I imagine you could get the same salty, crunchy flavor kick by using bacon. For the record: 3 ounces of pancetta equaled 3 slices of my package. It was about 1/3 cup of pancetta bits, once cooked.
2. Costco sells peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash. I love buying it ready to go (and frankly, if I had to peel, seed and chop a squash for this recipe, I probably wouldn't have tried it on a night I was solo parenting). If you can get the squash ready to go like that, I highly recommend it. It's the difference between declaring this recipe easy versus labor intensive.
3. I was skeptical that I didn't need to peel the clementines, but the original recipe promised the thin skins would soften during cooking and become edible. And wouldn't you know, they were right. The skins even added a slight tang of extra orange to the dish.
4. Do I even need to say that you must use real maple syrup for this recipe, and not some maple-flavored corn syrup? No? Good.
5. The smaller your squash, the faster this dish will cook. Mine was slightly too soft. It didn't hurt the flavor at all, but if you're a texture person, you will want to watch that closely.