I don’t think I have ever eaten what would be considered a “healthy” salad in my life. My thought process goes more like this, “Well I’m not eating a cheeseburger so therefore I am allowed to put whatever I want on my salad and not feel guilty about it!” This recipe is no different. This salad was created for enjoyment of all the fall colors and flavors. The health factor takes a very distant third in terms of what I cared about when creating this recipe.
This is not a difficult recipe but it is a bit more time-consuming that what I would typically do for a weeknight. If you roast the squash beforehand however, this recipe will come together in a flash. There will probably be leftover squash but it makes a great side dish for the rest of the week.
Yield: 4-1st course servings or 2-dinner servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
- 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
- 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 (6oz) bag baby spinach
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. shallot, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 oz. soft goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels and strain bacon grease. Reserve bacon fat.
- Cut ends off of squash and cut in half. Remove seeds. Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash to remove outer layer. Cut squash into 1 inch cubes.
- Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. reserved bacon fat. Spread squash on a cookie sheet in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-45 minutes until you can just pierce through with a fork. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Return to oven on a low broil until caramelized. Remove squash from cookie sheet to a plate*. Set aside.
- Return oven to 400F, and roast onion with 1 tsp. bacon grease for 15 minutes.
- To make the dressing, heat 2 Tbsp. bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until softened. Add the apple cider vinegar and apple cider to skillet and allow to reduce for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes thickened. Once the dressing has thickened, whisk in the Dijon mustard and olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Immediately toss warm vinaigrette with spinach to wilt.
- Arrange spinach on plates and top with roasted squash, roasted red onions, and crumbled goat cheese. Use a grind of fresh pepper to finish.
* Remove the squash from cookie sheet while still warm. If you wait until it cools, like I did, the squash will stick to the cookie sheet and it will be hard to remove. If this does happen, just place the cookie sheet back in the oven until warms and it should again become easy to remove.