Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash tossed in a Warm Bacon and Brown Ale Vinaigrette with Sage and Toasted Pecans
I love to roast vegetables, particularly Autumn vegetables once the weather cools down. I love the warmth of the oven and the smell of concentrating sugars that fills the air. I love to bundle up in an oversized sweater and play music too loud while the kitchen timer keeps track of the time until dinner. And thank goodness for that kitchen timer because I somehow always lose track of time and would burn every roasted meal without it.
The recipe that follows features two of my favorite Autumn vegetables, brussels sprouts and butternut squash, that have been, you guessed it, roasted until caramelized and crispy with a fork tender interior. But it doesn’t stop there. A warm bacon and brown ale vinaigrette adds a subtle smokiness that enhances the caramelization of the vegetables and enough acidity to balance their sweetness while pecans provide texture. It’s a recipe that was intended to be a side dish, but it was so good that I skipped dinner and helped myself to a second, larger serving.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 6 servings as a side dish
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
4 thick slices of smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 ounces english style brown ale or porter
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss brussel sprouts and butternut squash with 3 tablespoons olive oil, cayenne, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper; roast for 35 minutes, or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a saute pan over medium heat until brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper-towels. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of rendered bacon fat into a small bowl and set aside. Add shallot to remaining fat in the pan; cook over medium heat, stirring occassionally, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, 1 or 2 minutes more. Add brown ale; simmer for 3 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and sage. Pour 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat in a steady stream while whisking continuously until vinaigrette emulsifies; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer roasted vegetables to a large bowl. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat (you may not need all of it), then stir in nuts and half of the bacon. Transfer to a serving dish and top with remaining bacon; garnish with sage leaves and serve immediately.