We’re just a few days away from The Show…Thanksgiving. If you like to cook, you know that this is like making it to the championships. You’re ready to go all the way and show your stuff to your family and friends. You’re most likely getting ready to hit the store(s) and start cooking in preparation for Thursday.
My own family tends to be a bit carb-centric, with mashed potatoes, baked corn, noodles, rolls, stuffing and so, so much more. To save my husband’s tastebuds, I’ve finally started incorporating greens and salad into the mix — but not just any salad. Salad with warm bacon dressing because, hey, a girl’s got to go with the bacon while she can. And on T-Day, just about anything goes, so have some fun.
Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided use
- 4-6 bacon slices
- 2 medium shallots
- 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 ounces baby spinach or arugula
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube the butternut squash into 1-inch or so pieces. Place on a baking sheet with sides and drizzle some olive oil on it (maybe 1 tablespoon, but whatever feels good to you) and a generous sprinkle of salt and 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 cooking, saute the 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 tablespoons bacon fat from the pan.
Slice shallots thinly, then saute in the bacon fat over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to your pan and swirl. Add 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then swirl again until the Dijon is dispersed through the pan. Set aside.
Place 6-8 ounces spinach in a big bowl. Toss in your crumbled bacon, roasted butternut squash, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Toss gently.
Just before serving, pour the warm dressing over the salad. Toss gently again. Your spinach or arugula will get a little wilty, but not turn into mush.
Want to get started early? Roast the squash the day before and warm it in the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Now stay calm, enjoy your family (at least that one super-fun sister-in-law that cracks you up at every family gathering), and appreciate the feast about to be set before you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.