Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Balsamic + Bacon

We love to get as much seasonal and local food as possible from the Lexington Farmer's Market each week and fall is one of the best times to find unique and beautiful produce.  Zucchini is one of our staples that we pick up every week but lately we have also been getting different autumn squashes to try.  My favorite way to prepare them is by simply roasting them in the oven with some simple seasonings and topped with bacon.  By roasting the vegetables and uncooked bacon together, the vegetables really soak up all the smoky flavor as the bacon crisps up, and it's also much less prep work all around!  I promise even the pickiest of eaters will love these vegetables and it is a perfect side dish to whip up while grilling or to throw on top of a salad.   

1 small acorn squash

1 small butternut squash

1-2 zucchini

2 small roasting onions

1-2 small red or green peppers

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 tablespoon each salt and pepper

1/3 cup pine nuts

4 slices bacon

feta for topping (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

2. Chop up all your vegetables into bite size pieces: the butternut squash and acorn squash need to be peeled before chopping- here's a quick tutorial).

3. In a large mixing bowl combine your chopped vegetables with the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, salt, pepper, and pine nuts

4.  Toss the mixture until all the vegetables are lightly coated.

5. Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet, dish, or pan in a single layer.

6.  Top the vegetables with 4 slices of bacon (uncooked).

7.  Bake at 450 degrees until the veggies are tender and bacon starts to crisp up (about 20-30 minutes, you may need to flip your bacon halfway through).

8.  After removing from the oven, chop the bacon up and sprinkle it over the rest of the roasted vegetable mixture.

9.  Transfer to a bowl and top with a sprinkling of feta cheese (optional).

How gorgeous is that?! One of my favorite parts of this dish is the combination of all the bright and beautiful autumn colors on the plate!  The balsamic adds just a touch of acidity, while the olive oil and garlic make all the vegetables taste perfectly buttery and smell so fragrant.  I love the addition of the bacon because not only does it enhance all the flavors by cooking along with the vegetables, but it also adds a little crunch and texture combined with the pine nuts.  All the flavors of the vegetables compliment each other perfectly, from the subtle sweetness of the butternut squash to the brightness of the zucchini.  Of course you can always sub in different vegetables depending on what is available and the recipe works just as well.  I love to top it with a sprinkling of feta for a touch of tangy flavor, but Parmesan would also work.  I hope you enjoy this healthy seasonal side dish as much as we do!