Is it too early to be posting Thanksgiving recipes? I tested this recipe back when the weather was warmer and I could barely fathom the idea of fall. And I had every intention of presenting this dish as yet another recipe featuring fall produce. BUT, after some thought, I realized, duh, this Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Kale Casserole would make one rockin’ Thanksgiving side dish. So here you go! It’s your first Thanksgiving recipe of the season!
My inspiration for the recipe came from a traditional Irish dish called Colcannon, which usually consists of mash potatoes mixed with cabbage or kale. I love the idea of adding a crunchy, textured cruciferous vegetable to smooth mashed potatoes because it makes the dish more filling, adds a nutritional punch, and increases the portion size.
This version is loaded with sweet and savory flavors, crunchy and smooth textures, and a bunch of good-for-you ingredients. Sweet butternut squash, hearty kale, salty smokey bacon bits, chopped pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Seriously, bacon and maple syrup are all I need to hear, but might as well throw in the vegetables too, right?
To make this dish, you’ll cut the squash in half and roast it, seeds and peel and all, until it’s as tender as can be. After it’s done roasting and has cooled, the peel will slide right off and the seeds are a cinch to scoop out.
While the squash is roasting, get out a big saucepan or Dutch oven. This is where you’ll build the base of flavor with onions, garlic, sage, and bacon. To that you’ll add the kale, and eventually, the roasted squash. All of this is done in the same pan, which makes for easy clean up. When it’s time to bake everything together, transfer the mixture into a casserole dish. At the end, you’ll add chopped pecans and extra bacon bits for a crunchy topping.
If you’re tasked with hosting Thanksgiving this year or bringing the side dish to your gathering, give this dish a try! Your guests will surely appreciate the healthier option, and it’s sure to be a hit because…bacon.
- 1 large butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon pepper, divided
- 8 slices of uncooked bacon
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage (optional)
- 5 cups of roughly chopped kale
- ⅓ cup pecans, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the halved squash on a baking sheet. Rub the olive oil over the squash. Then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Roast the squash for 45 minutes or until fork tender.
- While the squash is roasting, cook the bacon until crispy in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on the stove. Place the cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. To the same sauté pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Then, add the garlic and sage and cook for another minute. Add the kale to the mix, sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale begins to wilt. Take the pan off the heat.
- Chop the bacon into bits. Reserve ⅓ cup for the topping. Add the rest of the bits to the kale mixture and stir to combine.
- When squash is done roasting, let it cool for a few minutes. Once the squash has cooled, scoop out the seeds and remove the peel. Add the squash to the kale mixture and stir until combined. Give the mixture a taste and sprinkle with salt if needed.
- Transfer the mixture into a large casserole dish. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped pecans and the remaining ⅓ cup of bacon bits over the top. Place back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Before serving, drizzle the maple syrup over the top.
Nutrition Information (per serving) from Caloriecount.about.com
Calories: 137 Fat: 6.7g Carb: 15g Fiber: 2.7g Protein: 6.5g Sugar 3.3g Sodium: 594mg