Fall flavors + pancetta = yum
Currently, I’m located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, working remotely through late February. I’ll explain that more later this week, but for now I’ll focus on the weather here. We had a “cold spell” here, also known as having a daytime high of mid 40s. For someone from New Hampshire, that’s almost spring, which makes this Warm Butternut and Apple Salad the perfect choice for dinner. Although it’s warming, it’s not overly heavy. Plus, since it’s January, it’s the perfect time to use those roots vegetables and apples left from fall. Top it with pancetta, and every eater should be excited about this dish.
To learn more about this recipe, originally published in September 2017, keep reading.
I’m in the midst of seasonal transitions here in New Hampshire, as many of you probably are. Last week it was so chilly at night that I thought about closing the windows. (I didn’t but added a blanket. There’s something about a cool room and thick blanket!) This week it’s humid, and I’ve turned the AC on. The local orchards are brimming with apples and squash while the farms have a multitude of tomatoes and corn. The decision as to how to cook varies by day.
With cooler weather on hand one day, I decided to embrace apples and squash in my menu. I love combining the two in a single recipe and then adding another element to keep the sweet factor at bay. This salad managed to do that quite nicely. Rather than working with my spice rack, I decided to add some crispy pancetta to the salad. Not only does it add crunch and salt, it makes this salad appealing to a wider audience.
I chose pancetta for this recipe because I wanted it to be the sidekick, not the star. I purchased thinly sliced pancetta, which I then diced and panfried to get it crisp. What that produced was a feather-light topping that added some savory and salty notes but kept the butternut and apple flavors front and center.
For me this salad was my entrée. Served with some flatbread or a roll, it makes for a nice, light dinner. If you have a heartier appetite, it makes a great side dish to accompany many a protein- steak, chicken, fish. They all would pair nicely.
Of course, if you’re not ready to accept the arrival of fall (you have 4 more days until it’s reality), then bookmark this recipe for a few weeks in the future. If you’re ready for some autumnal flavors, give it a try tonight.
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 Tb. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1-½ lb. butternut squash, peeled & seeded
- ½ medium sweet onion
- 1-1/2 Tb. olive oil
- 4 oz. pancetta
- Salt & pepper
- 1 apple, core removed
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Combine vinegar and maple syrup in small saucepan; bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat slightly and stir occasionally until reduced by half.
- Set aside.
- Dice squash into 1-inch cubes.
- Slice onion into small wedges.
- Combine squash and onion on a rimmed baking sheet
- Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat fully.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- While squash and onions cook, dice pancetta into small pieces
- Heat frying pan over medium; cook diced pancetta for 3-5 minutes or until crispy.
- Drain pancetta on paper towel lined plate.
- Dice apple into 1-inch cubes.
- Coat with ½ tablespoon oil; toss.
- After baking for 15 minutes, remove tray from oven.
- Add apple to tray, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Transfer squash, onion, and apples to a large bowl.
- Pour reduced dressing over it; stir well.*
- Top with pancetta.
- At this point you also can transfer the salad to a preheated, nonstick frying pan. Heating the salad in the pan will allow the sauce to caramelize on the veggies.