Can you tell that I've been having a little bit of a butternut squash/bacon thing lately?
It must be the cool, fall weather.
I love fall.
And fall food.
But I really love bacon.
I had some leftover bacon (I know - HOW does that happen?) and an errant butternut squash rolling around, so I thought I'd make some salad. "Cause, y'know, salad is better with bacon. And bacon fat. Just sayin'.
Anyway, here's what you want to do:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube a butternut squash into 1" or so pieces. Place on a baking sheet with sides and drizzle some olive oil on it (maybe 1 T., but whatever feels good to you) and a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, gently stir, and roast another 15-20 minutes, or until brown and tender. Set aside.
While your squash is cookin', go ahead and saute 4 or 5 or 6 pieces of bacon in a medium skillet. I like to cut it into pieces before I saute because it makes it easier to nibble. Don't tell anyone.
Remove the bacon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, remove all but 2 T. bacon fat from the pan. (Save the remaining bacon fatty goodness, just in case).
Slice 2 or 3 shallots thinly, then saute in the bacon fat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown.
Add 3 T. olive oil to your pan and swirl. Add 2-3 T. cider vinegar, 1 T. Dijon, 1 T. sugar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then swirl again until the Dijon is dispersed through the pan. Set aside.
Place 6-8 oz. spinach is a big bowl. Toss in your crumbled bacon, your roasted butternut squash, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I like Craisins). Toss gently.
Now, and this is your money shot, pour the warm dressing over the salad. Toss gently again.
Your spinach will get a little wilty, but not turn into mush.
The first time I made this, I used arugula and it was wonderful. I switched it up because I wasn't finding great arugula lately and spinach is a little less expensive.
And that my friends, is the awesomeness of the roasted butternut squash salad with warm bacon dressing. Sha-zam!
Looking for other variations on the theme? It seems like warm bacon dressing is all the rage this month. You can check out Pioneer Woman's Spinach Salad recipe here or Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen's version with feta and other assorted yumminess here. There seem to be a million of them floating around this week, so if you've got another that you're loving, let me know!