Sauteed acorn squash and brussels sprouts with maple-cinnamon glaze, pecans, and bacon makes for a marvelous side dish to go alongside your favorite fall or winter-inspired entree.
Per my melodramatic gemini ginger way, creating towering mountains out of the tiniest of molehills is my specialty – in a maelstrom of whimsy and irrationalism, no less. Similarly, I’ve been known to make an entree out of a side dish, because let’s face it: from time to time, the multi-faceted side event is so intriguing that it makes you forget about the main event altogether…
…Which is my fancy way of saying, I ate this whole dish in one sitting.
Because, have a looksy. It has bacon.
In my frontal lobe fantasies, this is the perfect side dish for all fall through winter occasions – including holidays, folks! This side dish is a something-for-everyone situation, as it covers many-a-palate. Acorn squash people? Covered. Brussels sprouts people? Covered. Bacon, pecans, and sweet-and-savory lovers? Covered, covered, covered. Essentially, as long as you’re not allergic to fun, you’ll enjoy the multi-faceted features of this veggie expedition. Unless, of course, you’re vegetarian, in which case, you have my full support to omit the bacon.
Here comes the tricky part. This side dish requires a few steps. I’ll be the first to admit, peeling and chopping an acorn squash is not my idea of an evening soiree under the stars, but I can reassure you, the effort is worth the final product. Wanna know a trick I use to save some time? I use the packaged brussels sprouts that have already been trimmed and halved. BOOM! That’s efficiency.
In order to cook both the acorn squash and brussels sprouts to perfection, I choose to cook them separately. This way, I don’t run the risk of having either (or both) vegetable turn out over cooked or under-cooked, or worse: one vegetable under-cooked and the other over-cooked…that’d just be a disaster.
Essentially, once the vegetables are chopped and we’re ready to cook, here is our order of operations:
1.) I cook the bacon first in order to render some fat, then remove the bacon and cook the brussels sprouts in the bacon fat. (Note: If you’re vegetarian, skip this step and cook the veggies in coconut oil – the coconut oil is lovely in this dish!)
2.) Once the brussels are finished, I transfer them to a bowl and use the same skillet to cook the acorn squash (at this point, you can add more oil to the skillet if necessary).
3.) As soon as the acorn squash is cooked through, I add the brussels back in, along with the chopped up bacon bits.
4.) The part that comes next will require you to exercise your trust fairies. Because next, we add pure maple syrup and ground cinnamon. I know…freaky. It may seem peculiar to add a sweetener to a savory dish, but the salty fatty bacon and sweet pure maple syrup create a beautiful little balance, most favorable to the tongue palate.
All flavors, textures, heart feels added together makes for a dish I could eat almost every single day. In high volume. Like it’s dessert.
Maple-Cinnamon Glazed Acorn Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon
- 16 ounces Brussels sprouts trimmed and halved
- 1 medium acorn squash peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup to taste
- 1/3 cup raw pecan halves chopped
Heat a large skillet to medium-high on the stove top. Once hot, add the bacon and cook, flipping every 1 to 2 minutes, until fat has seeped out and bacon has reached desired amount of crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet and transfer to a cutting board, leaving the bacon drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon and set aside until ready to use.
Add the chopped Brussels sprouts to the skillet with the bacon drippings and reduce the heat to medium. Stir the Brussels sprouts well, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover, stir, and continue cooking until Brussels sprouts have reached desired done-ness, about another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a plate and set aside.
Place the skillet back on the hot stove top and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil if necessary. Transfer the chopped acorn squash to the skillet, stir well, and cover. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stir, and remove the cover. Cook an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until acorn squash is golden-brown and cooked through.
Transfer the Brussels sprouts to the skillet with the acorn squash, along with the chopped bacon, cinnamon, sea salt, pure maple syrup, and pecans. Stir well to combine and continue cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to a serving bowl and serve alongside your favorite entree.
Additional Healthy Fall Side Dishes:
- Crock Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole (Paleo)
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Pears, Pecans, and Cranberries
- Herbed Coconut Milk Potatoes Au Gratin
- Wild Rice Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Pears, and Pecans
- My Go-To Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
- “Cheesy” Vegan Roasted Cauliflower