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Butternut Squash Baked Beans

 4 slices bacon, roughly chopped (for vegetarian version, use butter or oil. Add in a dash of liquid smoke with BBQ sauce.)
 1/2 onion, small dice (or 1 small onion, you'll need about 1/2-3/4 cup)
 1 carrot, small dice
 2 cloves minced garlic
 4 cups cubed butternut squash (or sub winter squash or peeled sweet potatoes)
 3-4 cups cooked pinto beans
 1/3 cup maple syrup
 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
 2 tbsp Hot Pepper Butter (omit if you don't want it spicy)
 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
 1/2 - 1 tsp salt
 Juice from 1 whole lemon

Your beans should be cooked for this recipe, so if you haven't done that, cook them first. Chop your bacon into appx. 1" square pieces. Brown in an large, heavy-bottomed soup pot (like an enameled cast iron Dutch oven) for 5-7 minutes, until the fat begins to render and the edges start to curl. Remove the bacon from the pot and set on a plate.


Add the finely minced onion to the pot and stir into the bacon grease. Cook over medium/medium-low heat for 7 minutes, till soft and creamy. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 minutes, then the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.


Add all the sauces to the pot-- the maple syrup, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar and hot pepper butter (if using.) Stir well.


Pour the butternut squash cubes into the pot and stir well. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and cook for 25 minutes.


Remove the cover and add the cooked beans, the minced sage and the bacon. Cook, uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is soft and the sauce has thickened. Taste to adjust seasoning-- we added some lemon juice and a half teaspoon of salt to bring all the flavors together. We also added in some julienned kale for extra greens-- delicious!