Roasted Squash Salad with Bacon and Dandelion Greens
Someone is really concerned about us.
We eat a lot of meat and not enough vegetables. Nick spent a week devouring ham and now his face is the color of plain file folders. (I'm in the office--this is the only simile available to me.) We're facing vitamin deficiencies, colon problems. We're afraid to go outside. Because if we just ate a bunch of raw vegetables, we'd have nothing to tell you. We're offering up our bodies for the sake of research.
Are there other ways to eat cheaply? The problem is, Nick ate for a week, including ham sandwiches for lunch, on a $15 piece of pig. He went from Christmas dinner to Parisian cafe in only two strokes. Try doing that from the produce aisle.
Still, this is going to be a week of salads and more vegetables, and creative combinations that we made up without recipes. Cooking with overwhelming amounts of meat is like writing dialogue with swear words: it's an easy, cheap path to success.
Since we need to ease ourselves into the leafy, higher moral ground, this salad, inspired after a meal at 360 (Red Hook's famed $25 prixe fixe, where you can eat way too well for the money you're paying) is only kind of healthy. There's still bacon and shaved hard cheese. There's buttery butternut squash. But there's definitely some greens, even if they're the evil weed your grandmother made you yank out of her garden every Sunday afternoon after church. Who knew they'd show up in your salad?
Squash Salad with Dandelion Greens
1 butternut squash
half bunch dandelion greens
two strips thick-cut bacon
1 dried red chile
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Adapted from a meal at 360 (360 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, Brooklyn).
Preheat oven to 400 F. I cut the squash in half lengthwise, then again to make quarters. In a mortar and pestle or with a large sharp knife, crush the dried red chili and mix in with one tablespoon olive oil. Rub this mixture into the squash flesh and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast flesh side up for 35-40 minutes, or until it begins to carmelize and the flesh is soft all the way through when pierced with a fork.
Next time, I'd probably remove the skin from the squash and cut it into chunks. Once it was roasted it was very hard to separate the flesh from the skin and it got messy. It will roast for less time if you cut it up first--maybe 20 minutes but keep an eye on it. The key is a high temperature so it carmelizes before getting cooked through and mushy.
With ten minutes left on the squash, heat a pan and saute the bacon until not yet crip but close. Throw in the dandelion greens and let them wilt. Pull the squash out, cut it into chunks if you haven't yet, then throw them in. If you want, you can drain some of the bacon fat beforehand. But why, oh why, would you ever do that?
Transfer the salad into a bowl and toss with the balsamic and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and top with Pecorino cheese. Yeah salad!