Oven baked squash goes from basic to elevated thanks to maple sage butter, crispy pancetta, and just a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese. This dish makes for a stunning side at any holiday table, or a fun weeknight meal on its own.
For this dish I used these adorable little honeynut squash, but any type of in-season squash like butternut or acorn work. You can read more about these sweeter and more tender cousins of the butternut squash in my Roasted Honeynut Squash recipe post. If you come across these at the market, I do recommend you give them a try. But for this recipe, as I said, any type of Fall squash will work just fine.
- 2 in-season Fall squashes, cut in half and seeds scooped out
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1 small package of pancetta (typically comes in 4 ounce packages)
- 2 tbsp each of butter and maple syrup
- sage leaves
- crumbled goat cheese if you want to add a little bite to offset the salty sweetness of this dish
Preparation of Squash
The beauty of using these little honeynut squashes is that unlike butternuts, they are pretty easy to cut through. However if you are cooking with a really hard squash like acorn or butternut, you will want to first microwave the squash for 1-2 minutes to soften up the outer skin.
Once your squash is safely cut in half, scoop out the seeds and save them to roast (if you wish), or toss them. Brush each squash with a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
How long to bake squash in the oven
Depending on what type of squash you are baking matters. The small honeynuts I mentioned above cook up quickly compared to larger butternuts. Based on the common in-season types of squash available, here’s a general guideline for cooking times in a 350 degree oven:
- Small squashes like honeynut and delicata: 30 minutes
- Larger squashes like butternut and acorn: 40 minutes
No matter what size or type of squash you’re baking with, you will know it’s done when it’s fork tender.
Making the Maple sage butter & Pancetta
Of course these are wonderful as is when fresh out of the oven, but we’re wanting to make this dish a little more special. So while your squash are baking, heat up 2 tablespoons of butter in small sauce pan over low heat. Add in a couple of sage leaves and stir for a few minutes, so that the sage can infuse with the butter. Then gently whisk in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, till heated through, Strain the sage from the maple butter and place in a small bowl.
Using the same small sauce pan, add your diced pancetta and cook on medium heat till crispy yet tender; about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir often as to not unevenly brown the pancetta. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked pancetta and place on a paper lined plate.
Finally, if you’re feeling super fancy, add a few chopped sage leaves to the same pot with the pancetta cooking fat, and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until just crispy,
Assembling Your oven Baked squash
Place the squash on a serving platter, and pour the maple butter over each squash. Keep in mind that the ingredient amounts for the maple butter I suggest above are for 4 small half squashes. If you are cooking with larger pieces, go ahead and double the butter and maple syrup.
Sprinkle on the crispy pancetta, fried sage leaves and a bit of crumbled goat cheese. Finish with cracked pepper and some flaky sea salt, and you have one gorgeous side dish ready to go!
More cooking tips
The key to achieving fork tender, but not mushy squash, is to not overcook. Make sure you begin checking your squash for doneness at the 20 minute mark for smaller squashes like delicata and honeynut, and 30 minutes for larger squashes.
To “roast” your squash and get a slightly more browned top, crank up the heat to 400 degrees and lower your cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
other delicious squash dishes to try
- Easy Roasted Honeynut Squash
- Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pork Sausage and Chestnuts
- Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Oven Baked Squash with Maple Sage Butter & Crispy Pancetta
Oven Baked Squash with Maple Sage Butter and Crispy Pancetta
- 2 Squash cut in half and seeded
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 5 sage leaves
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 tbsp goat cheese crumbled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush olive oil on each squash half then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash, until fork tender
- While the squash is baking, heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add 2 of the sage leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing the sage to infuse the butter.
- Add the maple syrup and heat through. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
- In the same saucepan, add the pancetta and cook over medium heat till crispy, making sure to stir frequently. Remove from the pan and set on a paper towel lined plate.
- Rough chop the remaining 3 sage leaves and add them to the sauce pan with the pancetta drippings. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, till crispy.
- Place the baked squash on a serving platter, and pour the maple sage butter evenly over each squash. Top with the pancetta, goat cheese and crispy sage leaves.