Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roasted Squash and Arugula Salad with Pecans, Bacon, and Goat Cheese

I figured I’d get in one last squash recipe before the holidays. This salad, found on The Kitchn, is made up of various things I all love. When I roasted the pecans, they were so addictive and delicious still warm that I almost ate all of them on the spot and pretended that the salad was nut-free. But I couldn’t deprive the Engineer of those pecans, so I restrained myself. The bacon doesn’t stay crisp overnight, so if you’re going to be eating your 4 servings on different nights, consider cooking the bacon in two batches (and assembling the salad only before serving it). With the amount of bacon and bacon grease in this salad, it is by no means healthy, but while it may not be good-for-you, it is oh-so-good!

½ cup pecans
neutral oil such as canola
flaky sea salt such as Maldon
a 2-lb butternut squash
½ lb of applewood smoked bacon
½ cup slivered shallots
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
7-oz bag arugula
several sprigs fresh thyme
8-oz package goat cheese (ideally lactose-free)

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Toss the pecans with a little canola oil and sea salt, and roast until fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and seed the squash and cut into ½ -inch cubes. Toss with a little canola oil on two baking sheets (do not crowd) and sprinkle with more of the sea salt.

When the pecans are done, remove from the oven, raise the temperature to 425 °F and roast the squash until it's soft and the edges are deep brown.

While the squash roasts, cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and fry it up in a large skillet. You may need to do this in two batches, pouring off the fat (be sure to save it!) in between. Drain the bacon on paper towels or on a brown paper bag.

Keep the pan hot and make sure there are about 6 Tbsp of bacon fat in the pan. Add the shallots and sauté over medium heat until they soften. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar. Swirl to combine. Add a few turns of the pepper mill's worth of fresh black pepper.

The salad can be served now, with the ingredients still warm, or at room temperature. To assemble: In a large bowl, toss the dressing with the squash and bacon. Add several large handfuls of the arugula. Strip about three or four sprigs of thyme leaves into the bowl and add the pecans (which should be broken into pieces if they're not already.) Toss gently. Dot with the goat cheese (you may not need all of it) and serve.

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