Just about a year ago, when our cookbook was hot off the presses and I was in search of the perfect wooden spoon to pair with it, my brother (who loves to tackle a good project with me!) did a little “googling” and found Paulie, the Bowl Man, from New Hampshire Bowl and Board. And what a great find he turned out to be! We sold dozens upon dozens of his beautiful wooden spoons in our 2017 Winter Bundle (yes, we still have a few, if you missed out!) Turning to my wood crafting friend again this winter, we were inspired to create a yummy harvest salad worthy of his gorgeous cherry bowl.
A little back story…A few years ago, as I was looking for a way to brighten up my roasted butternut squash for Thanksgiving, my dear friend Marlene won me over with her warm butternut squash side dish tossed with spinach, red onions and cranberries. It was as beautiful as it was delicious!
So, with bowl in hand, and Marlene’s side dish on my mind, I set out to remake it into a memorable spinach salad. I knew it could be done, I mean, who doesn’t love spinach salad with lots of yummy decorations on top?!? After a fun brainstorming session with her, and a long distance drive into Boston which allowed just enough time to let my imagination run free, I could literally taste it! And I couldn’t wait to get home to my cozy kitchen and actually make it.
The recipe below is the final result. It might seem like just another salad (though one bite will tell you it’s anything but that!) but for me, this recipe (as with most) is the culmination of a journey…
Here’s to another winter together, Paulie!
The Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cored, and chopped into 3/4" pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt for sprinkling
The Candied Bacon
1 pound bacon, regular cut
1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar
Coarse black pepper for sprinkling
1 medium shallot, minced (about 4 T.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
The Rest of the Salad
1 pound fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup pomegranates
1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
BAKING THE SQUASH. Place butternut squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in 375°F oven for 30-40 minutes, until tender, turning once halfway through. Set aside.
MAKING THE BACON. Lightly coat both sides of bacon with brown sugar and sprinkle with pepper; lay slices on a baking rack atop a baking sheet and bake in 375°F oven until bacon is cooked (careful not to burn the sugar.) Cool. Chop. Set aside.
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE. Combine all ingredients and whir up in a blender. Or, do as Paulie, the Bowl Man suggests, and grab your wooden bowl and a fork and go to town! You can make this a day or two ahead. Refrigerate until ready to use.
ASSEMBLING THE SALAD (just before serving) In a large mixing bowl, toss spinach with some of the dressing (though it is very tasty, less is more!). Put remaining dressing in a gravy boat or small pitcher, and let people drizzle on a bit more should they want it. Garnish with all of the toppings and serve.