Sides, Vegetables

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette

2 Comments 28 October 2011

Folks, what a beautiful dish this turned out to be. If you’re hoping to add some bright, lovely color to your Thanksgiving table, this one is the ticket. Bonus round – it tastes great, too!

Before we go any further, though, can I just say what a suggestive thing the butternut squash is? It looks like a certain part of anatomy. You know…that. No, don’t giggle. Well, OK, giggle, but let’s face it, it’s true! The butternut squash is kinda phallic. I was looking over the limited selection as my grocer’s and there was just not a one in the bunch that didn’t scream I’m phallic! I had a whole conversation with myself – silent, of course, can’t have everyone knowing what a doofus I am – and the veggies where I asked the ten or so available, Who here is not phallic? Please stand up! OK, wrong directive…hmmm.

In the end, you just have to grab one and go with it. Heh.

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette 14

Up until a few years ago I didn’t even like Brussels sprouts, and until this recipe I’d never even tasted butternut squash. Thanks to bacon, which I’ve had more than my fair share of, the two are here together to school me!

I’ve not always appreciated the Brussels Sprout’s finer qualities. It should be noted that I still may not since all I could do was mutter gleefully under my breath how they looked like tiny green brains as we assembled and implemented the recipe….as I do every time I eat them. In fact, whenever I make them at my house, it’s always, Dear, the Tiny Green Brains are ready! So far this strategy is not working on the kidlet.

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette 13

Lookit – the vinaigrette! Now that I think of it, I’m not sure why they call it a bacon vinaigrette. The bacon is added in before the dressing is tossed in. Maybe this doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there’s bacon. Mmmm.

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette 12

Raw butternut squash has such gorgeous color.

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But both the veggies retain beautiful color even after some initial and even final cooking. In truth, though, I might cook the Brussels sprouts a tad longer next time, but that’s an individual choice. It’s up to you, peoples.

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Once you’ve browned up the sprouts, you’re almost ready to eat. It’s bacon and vinaigrette time! Oh man, what a gooood vinaigrette it is, too.

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After contemplating the recipe I might make more dressing next time, just in case some folks want more; we ended up using all of what the recipe called for. And it was wonderful, a perfect blend of a savory-esque dish, with the tangy sweetness of the dressing and the saltiness form the bacon. You can customize the cooking time however you like, keeping the sprouts more crisp or more soft.

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It’s a beautiful dish and it really did taste extra uber good! Enjoy.

Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette

Adapted from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook time: about 30 minutes    Level: Easy    Serves: 6-8

  • 4 oz. thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage

In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but 1 Tbs. of the fat into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Add the shallot to the remaining fat in the pan and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, thyme and shallot. Slowly whisk in 5 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts to a bowl of ice water. Drain well, then cut them in half lengthwise and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

Return the water in the pot to a boil, add the butternut squash and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain again and place on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

Alternate way to cook the sprouts and squash: Cut the sprouts in half and cook for several minutes in the microwave, till almost fork tender, or whatever consistency you like your sprouts to be. Place the cut up squash in a different bowl and do the same. Microwave for a couple of minutes at a time, testing with a fork for tenderness before deciding whether or not to microwave more.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the squash and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light golden and warmed through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the reserved bacon fat. Place the brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, without moving them, for 3 to 4 minutes, then stir and add the sage. Cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to the bowl with the squash. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the vegetables (you may not need all of it), then stir in half of the bacon. Transfer the vegetables to a platter, sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve immediately.


Want to know the truth? Even though we read the recipe directions, we didn’t do a couple of things right, leading us to opting to microwave the sprouts as opposed to using the boiling water method. So we decided to put both ways in there to let others choose. Honestly, the microwave is easier, and I’ve done this when trying other recipes that call for boiling water only to cook veggies for a few minutes. The microwave heats up my  kitchen a lot less and does just as good a job. Anything that can make this recipe easier for Thanksgiving day is nice, too.

Oh, hey – it looks like we forgot to sauté the shallots for the vinaigrette, too! No worries, they tasted great uncooked. Swears! But I might need a little more sleep prior to food blog cooking days. Geeze.

The original recipe calls for steamed chestnuts, but you just can’t get those where we live, I’m guessing, till closer to Thanksgiving. I looked, but no dice. If you like them, though, you might want to check out the link to the original recipe to see how to incorporate them. They’re pricey, so I didn’t mind leaving them out.

If you want to make this when butternut squash isn’t in season, I think a sweet potato or two would substitute nicely. It’s similar to the butternut squash in consistency and flavor. Peel them the same way and go from there.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. compostingathome says:

    This was sooo good. The squash and sprouts worked so well together. I could definitely see this as a side for Thanksgiving dinner. Just a great marriage of flavors!

  2. Sophia (FV) says:

    To be honest, the ingredients in this do not appeal to me, however the gorgeous colors in this dish make it almost irresistible. Wonderful!

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