On our first day in Denver, my brother took us up to Boulder for the afternoon. We didn’t have any particular agenda in mind, just to wander Pearl street, and visit some of the wonderful shops there. After we’d wandered around and worked up an appetite, it was time for a late lunch.
Mike took us to his favorite brewpub, Mountain Sun. We’d been there before on our last visit and remembered it as a friendly, homey spot with good food, and good beer for the boys. I was a little more anxious on this visit, as my gluten sensitivity has become quite severe, and eating out can be a real challenge. Mountain Sun was packed when we arrived, as it was also the first day of Great American Beerfest, and the beer geeks were there supporting their favorite establishment and talking brew. But once we snagged a table, I was very pleasantly surprised with the care that our very busy server took to ensure that I would eat safely.
I ordered a spinach salad topped with roasted butternut squash with a warm bacon-chipotle vinaigrette, and topped with fresh feta cheese. It was amazing, and if I could have licked the plate I would have. I knew that when we arrived home, I’d have to make this salad soon, so that I’d have the recipe on file. I made a few changes – making it a bit meatier for Mark, and roasting the squash with a bit of bacon fat, herbs and some chipotle puree. I didn’t have any spinach (which would have been my preference), but we did have some beautiful romaine on hand from our farm share that fit the bill nicely. Next time you’re looking for a different twist on a dinner salad – give this one a try!
Spicy Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
700 cal per serving, 30g fat, 69g carbs, 38g protein, 6g fiber, 2000mg sodium, 680mg potassium
Half a butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cubed into 1/2″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 strips bacon, cooked, chopped and fat reserved
2 tsp chipotle puree
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn
1oz feta, crumbled
3oz cooked chicken breast, cubed (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
olive oil spray for cookie sheet
1 T warm bacon fat
1 T champagne vinegar
1 T stone ground mustard
1-2 tsp chipotle puree, to taste
1/2 tsp maple syrup
salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450, turn on the convection if you’ve got it. Meanwhile, slice the squash in half, lengthwise. Cover half with saran wrap and stash it in the fridge to cook another evening. Peel the half you’re going to use with a wide Y-shaped peeler, then scoop out the seeds and guts. Slice the squash lengthwise into 1/2″ wide slices, then cube the squash into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss the squash into a medium sized bowl, and pour 1tsp of bacon fat over the squash, and toss to coat. Add the rosemary and garlic, 1-2 tsp chipotle puree, salt, and stir to coat. Spray a sheet pan with olive oil, and pour the squash onto the sheet pan in one layer. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and roast for 20 more minutes.
- While the squash is finishing roasting, make the dressing. Combine all the dressing ingredients (make sure the bacon fat is warm, so it’s liquid), and whisk. Taste, and adjust seasoning – if it’s too tart, add a bit of olive oil to smooth it out a bit.
- When the squash is done, and a bit carmelized at the edges, assemble the salad. Toss the greens with the dressing and pile the lettuce on the plates. Top with the bacon, feta, chicken and squash, then dig in!