From the Archives: Couscous With Crispy Pancetta and Butternut Squash


[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

This past Monday, I walked into the office to find Jamie popping a spaghetti squash into the oven. Oh man, is it that time of year again?, I thought to myself. You all know that time of year, right? That turning point when the last great tomatoes disappear and the apartment finally gets cool enough to start cooking indoors again?

I asked Jamie what she was roasting the squash for. No reason, she just felt like roasting a squash. It slow roasted all morning. I know her feeling. There are times in the fall when I'll get up in the middle of a movie* or roll out of bed after midnight to turn on the oven and slow roast a pumpkin or a squash all night until it becomes sticky sweet with its condensed juices.

*A movie I probably made my wife watch with me.

Ah look at me, I'm rambling again. Point is, squash is good, you don't need an excuse to cook it (though fall helps), and you certainly don't need all morning or all night to make it. For a super-simple approach that will get you your squash fix in just about half an hour, take it to the stovetop in this one-skillet recipe from the archives.

It starts with pancetta cooked down in a bit (ok, a lot) of olive oil along with some shallots and a Serrano pepper. Next, you bloom cumin and garlic in the oil before adding butternut squash and couscous which, serendipitously, take exactly the same amount of time to cook in the chicken broth you've added. Finally, some canned chickpeas add a meaty bite and some fresh lemon juice and cilantro leaves brighten the whole thing up. After all, the sun still shines in the fall.