Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Warm roasted garlic bacon vinaigrette

I haven't made a green salad in weeks, maybe a month or more.  This is totally unlike me and I realized the reason behind this boycott has been simply lack of inspiration.  I am kind of done with the lettuce, tomato, cucumber balsamic vinaigrette routine.  Boring!  Am I right?

Just like most days I decided what I was making for dinner after surveying the refrigerator and seeing a few ingredients that needed to be used and I knew I could be creative with.  That's when I was inspired.

Enter: Squash, leftover cooked bacon, garlic and lettuce.

I introduce the roasted squash and walnut salad with warm roasted garlic bacon vinaigrette.  This salad is entree worthy and decadently delicious. The roasted garlic sounds like a lot but the flavor is actually quite mellow (since it's roasted) and when blended with the other ingredients makes the vinaigrette thick and creamy.  It's heavenly.
The last step, crumble the bacon in the roasted garlic vinaigrette and blend.
 Make this!  I promise you will not be unhappy you did.

For the salad:
Any lettuce will do.  Spinach, Romaine, Bib lettuce.  Whatever
Purple onion sliced very thinly in rounds.
2 cups cubed squash
1 cup walnuts

For the dressing:
1 1/2 heads of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
3 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Zest from one lime
3 Tbsp fresh coriander leaves
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp agave nectar or honey
6-8 slices cooked bacon

Prepare the salad
Slice off the tips of the garlic bulbs, drizzle with olive oil,  wrap the head in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.   Add the squash to the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Roast both ingredients at 400 degrees, 20-30 minutes for the squash or until they are tender but not mushy and 50 minutes for the garlic.  When finished, set aside at room temp.

Roast the walnuts on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  They should smell nutty and be slightly browned.  Set them aside as well

Tear the lettuce and place in a bowl with the onion and a few sprigs of coriander leaves.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare the vinaigrette
Removing the casings from the garlic and place the soft pulp in a bowl with tall sides or a glass measuring cup. Add the oil, vinegar, lime juice, zest, coriander, milk, and nectar and use an emulsion blender to combine.  If you don't have one you could do this in your blender or food processor.  My husband gave me an emulsion blender for Christmas this year and I'm in love with this gadget!  It's so handy!  Taste the dressing and add pepper and just a pinch of salt.  Add the bacon and blend.  Taste again. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Adding more citrus, oil or vinegar is definitely your preference and perfectly acceptable.

Assemble the salad
Warm the roasted squash slightly in the microwave.  Warm the vinaigrette just barely above room temperature.  Pile your salad from the refrigerator on a plate.  Top with a drizzle of dressing.  Add the squash and roasted walnuts.  Drizzle with more warm roasted garlic bacon vinaigrette.

If you're like me, snap a photo, then dig in!

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