Earlier this week I met a friend for lunch at the creperie I worked at all summer — I did in fact say farewell to my crepe-making tools before we embarked on our epic road trip — and I was delighted to see that our creative genius of a chef has broken out the squash recipes for our seasonal specials. There was a decadent sweet pumpkin crepe and a savory butternut crepe with sage that they named the “clever butternut.” I’m a sucker for anything squash or that includes the word “clever,” and so I spent the rest of the day thinking about I had yet to roast a butternut squash this autumn season.
I’ve roasted a slew of sweet potatoes and one lonely acorn squash, plus a volumptuous spaghetti squash that we’re still working on, but it wasn’t until today that I braved the bulk and thick rind of a butternut. I’m so pleased I finally did.
Butternut squash, like most of it’s cool-weather squash cousins, is rich in beta carotene, potassium, vitamins A and C, and fiber. Without being too starchy, butternut squash has plenty of natural sweetness the emerges with slow roasting or pan-frying. Butternut squash puree can offer an alternative to pumpkin puree in fall desserts, and has a lighter, more caramel flavor than Thanksgiving’s gourd of choice. It also provides another platform for my favorite breakfast meal, sweet potato hash. With a bit of browned butter and some sage, cubed butternut squash sings under a fried egg.
With this salad, the flavor of butternut squash rests comfortably in between the intense salt of the bacon and the tart sweetness of the pomegranate arils. The textural contrast between crunchy bacon, the crisp fruit, the tender squash, and the verdant greens. Finally, the Bacon Maple Mustard vinaigrette, with its sweet-salty-bitter-briny glaze, ties everything together.
Roasted Butternut Salad
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
mixed greens – preferably something spicy like arugula with red leaf lettuce or frisee
1 small pomegranate, seeded
3 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
Dice the butternut and lay cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tender and sizzling. Allow to cool before combining with crumbled bacon, pomegranate arils, greens and Bacon Maple Mustard Dressing.
Bacon Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
1 tsp. brown mustard (I used Sierra Nevada Stout mustard)
3 Tbsp. liquid bacon grease
1 Tbsp. champagne vinegar (red wine vinegar would also be good)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
glug of olive oil
Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Pour over salad and toss to combine.
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And although this isn’t a very spooky recipe, it’s pretty autumnal, and there’s plenty of orange going on. For tonight’s Halloween festivities, Andrew and I are staying in to watch Hitchcock films and eat red wine pot roast and mashed cauliflower, AKA zombie brains. How’s that for Halloween food? What are you up to tonight? Trick or treating? Dressing up in costume? Let me know, I’m always curious!