Butternut Squash Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese Rounds & Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 slices smoked bacon
  • 2″ long piece of a typical “log” of goat cheese, sliced into 4 discs
  • panko bread crumbs (enough for coating each round of goat cheese)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 shallot, very finely diced
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, broken into pieces
  • salad greens (app. 2-3 cups)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss cubes of butternut squash with 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, turning once or twice if necessary. Squash should have a brown, slightly crisp skin.

Fry bacon until very crispy and set aside to drain on paper towels. Reserve bacon grease in pan and set aside for now.

In a small saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, balsamic, chicken broth, sugar, and shallot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it is reduced by half. In a seperate bowl, combine dijon, 1/4 tsp. salt, pinch of black pepper, and fresh sage. When pomegranate mixture is reduced by half, pour the warm mixture into the dijon and sage mixture. Slowly add 2 tbsp. oil while whisking constantly. Set vinaigrette aside.

Go ahead and plate your salad greens (divided evenly among 2 plates). Top each with half of the toasted walnuts.

Slice goat cheese into 4 equal discs (app. 1/2″ thick each). Roll each disc in panko and lightly press panko into cheese so that it is well-coated with bread crumbs. Heat the bacon grease until it is nice and hot and quickly fry goat cheese rounds, turning so that both sides get brown and crispy. This will not take long if your pan is hot enough. Try to turn them only once so that they are handled as little as possible (they may fall apart if handled too much). Set goat cheese rounds aside and allow to drain on paper towels for just a minute.

Top salad greens (already topped with the walnuts) with roasted butternut squash (after it’s slightly cooled), warm goat cheese rounds, 2 pieces of bacon (each), and vinaigrette.

Serves 2 for dinner, 4 as a salad course

From Carli Snyder

Heather Cross