Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Maple-Bacon vinaigrette

FALL IS THE BEST. it might be my favorite season. the coziness and pumpkin spice and layers and beanies and SQUASHES. I don't know about you but we are taking full advantage of squash season around here -- spaghetti squash and acorn squash and especially butternut squash! I've been in the mood for butternut squash all week so on Sunday, I made Bon Appetit's butternut squash carbonara with bacon and crispy sage and it was deeeeelicious! I incorporated a few of their techniques in with this Fall Butternut Squash salad with Maple-Bacon vinaigrette!

INGREDIENTS

  • one butternut squash (you will probably only use half of it)
  • 4 piece of bacon
  • 6-8 leaves of fresh sage
  • one apple
  • one handful nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)
  • cheese of your choice (I used pecorino)
  • greens of your choice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • maple syrup
  • salt + pepper

First things first: cook your squash. there are many different ways to do it but the easiest that I've found is to cut the squash length-wise (its reeeallly hard to cut so be careful!), place face down on a tin-foil-covered baking sheet, and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes (or until soft).

while your squash is in the oven, slice your bacon up into real tiny pieces and start cooking em in a pan. finely chop fresh sage and when the bacon is just barely crispy, throw the sage in the frying pan and stir around to coat it with the bacon grease. you really don't need to leave the sage in there for very long, probably less than a minute! turn the burner off and, with a slotted spoon (thats the spoon with the holes in it), scoop the bacon and sage onto a paper towel. you're going to use the leftover bacon grease for the vinaigrette so just hold tight with that!

next, get your toppings ready. I used a crunchy Pink Lady apple, walnuts, and pecorino cheese (which is like a mild-flavored parmesan). you could also add things like craisins, golden raisins, goat cheese, almonds, green onions, etc. its a pretty basic salad and would be good with many different toppings!

next, make the vinaigrette! anytime I'm making a dressing, I put all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up, rather than getting a bowl and whisk dirty -- easy mixing, easy storage! for the vinaigrette, mix together the leftover bacon grease, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper (as needed) into the jar. [sorry, I don't have exact measurements! I never really measure ingredients (unless I'm baking) and just add stuff til I like the way it tastes! ] put the cover on the jar and shake it real good! I like to toss the dressing with the greens before adding toppings, but do it however you like!

once your squash is done baking, cube it up and add it, along with the rest of your toppings, to your salad, and enjoy! a healthy taste of fall! (maybe it cancels out the pumpkin spice iced coffee with half + half I had earlier?!)

let me know if you try the recipe and what other toppings you add!

xoxo