Oven Roasted Winter Squash with Pancetta and Rosemary

Winter squash varieties that work well in this recipe include butternut, acorn, kabocha and big blue Hubbards—but don’t forget pumpkins, especially cheese pumpkin and rouge vif d’Étampes. If you use bacon instead of pancetta, the dish will have a pleasantly smoky flavor. If you don’t want that flavor, however, blanch the bacon before dicing by setting a chunk of slab bacon in a pot of simmering water for 5 or 6 minutes. This will cut down a lot on the smoky flavor. If you like the smoky flavor and want to emphasize it, use Spanish pimentón de la Vera, a smoky paprika, for the chile pepper in the dish.
By | November 23, 2015


Preheat oven to 375° and use a little oil to grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Bring the broth to a simmer in a saucepan.

Set a skillet over medium-high heat and combine the pancetta with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook, stirring, until the pancetta pieces have started to crisp and brown and give off some of their fat.

Combine the squash in a bowl with the sliced onion and rosemary. Add the ground chile pepper, salt and black pepper, and then 2 tablespoons of the oil. Toss with your hands to combine thoroughly and make sure all the squash dice are coated. Finally, stir in the browned pancetta with its oil and toss again. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, add the hot broth, cover the dish (with aluminum foil if necessary) and set it in the oven.

Bake the squash for about 40 minutes, or until it is tender and a knife pierces it easily. Remove the dish from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425°. Scatter the bread-crumbs and grated cheese over the squash and dribble the remaining 2 tablespoons oil on top.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, until the crust is golden.

The dish can be served immediately, but it’s better if allowed to cool a bit to something hotter than room temperature but not steaming hot. Makes 8 servings as a side dish.

About this recipe

Excerpted from Virgin Territory © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Recipe photo © Penny de Los Santos.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the dish
  • ¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ⅓ cup diced pancetta or bacon
  • About 3 pounds winter squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Pinch of ground red chile pepper, mild or hot to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
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