I’m baaaaaaacckkkk!!! (Jack Nicholson face). And I have a lot to say, apparently.
Guys, the wedding happened, we were wed, there was partying, there was New Orleans, there were family reunions, and there were surprise speeches (you know who you are, cough, Tedward), and I was a hugging machine, and now it’s over and we’re still in love!
For the past week, I’ve been mulling over the possibilities of a first post-wedding recipe. Do you know what I came up with? This random delicata squash salad. So much for allegory.
I DID think of some cheesy connections between the delicata squash and the delicate first year of marriage everyone gives me knowing looks about. Instead of testing your endurance with that, though, I’ll just talk a little about how awesome it was to have so much of my family and so many friends all together for our nuptials.
I know it’s obvious that your wedding might be the only occasion in which everyone you know is present (I mean, during your lifetime…ahem), but there was no way to prepare for how overwhelmingly awesome it was. And even though I knew over half of the folks in attendance pretty well before the celebrations even began, they still managed to surprise me with their coolness.
For example: even though I already knew that the Roomz II was a super nice, caring guy who always goes out of his way to do nice things for people, we were totally floored that he got us TWO foodie subscriptions as wedding gifts: not only shall we receive monthly bacon at our doorstep, but we can also look forward to olive oil installments.
That’s right. Bacon. On our doorstep. (I can’t even process the olive oil thing yet–there aren’t enough buttons on this keyboard to express it).
I used this bacon to break in our new cast iron (another saweet wedding gift), and everything you heard about cast iron is true. It’s just better. That’s a different post, sorry. I just mean to tell you that I cooked all of this in one pan (except the quinoa) and even the main man loved it, which is probably because this is a salad coated in bacon grease, y’all.
PS – IF, by any chance, you ran into me before the wedding, and I was all huffy and puffy and twenty minutes late and I told you to ELOPE instead of having a wedding, I now change my mind and say, “Have a huge wedding! It’s awesome and special and you’ll remember it forever. It doesn’t matter if it’s fancy–have a potluck in a barn for heaven’s sake–just do it, okay? And stop griping about wedding planning.” Heh…
Bacon and Delicata Squash Salad
3 cups cooked quinoa, prepared according to package directions (I used a mix of bulgur wheat and quinoa, which was really tasty)
3 strips thick bacon (ours was applewood smoked awesomeness)
½ large white onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 medium delicata squash, seeds scooped out, sliced in half flowers (YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO PEEL IT. WHAT?)
2 scallions, sliced super thin on the bias
2 limes, juiced
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Cook bacon until desired crispiness is reached, being careful not to burn the grease. Set bacon aside to drain over paper towels.
3. Pour off some grease (if you’re a pansy). Set heat on low or medium-low. Add onions and sweat. Cook onions low and slow. You want them to slowly turn brown and soft and sweet–no burning. It could take 5-15 minutes, depending on your stove. Add garlic when onions are still a little firm, but the end is in sight. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, making sure garlic doesn’t burn. Follow your heart when it comes to determining if the onions are done–ask yourself: would I eat these onions in a salad? If the answer is “no way,” they’re probably not soft enough yet.
4. Use tongs to lift out onions and garlic and set aside (you don’t want to pour off the remaining grease). Raise heat to medium or medium-high, and add oil or butter if you’re out of grease. Add squash to the pan, making sure each squash is flat down. You will probably have to do this in a couple batches. When they are crispy and marshmallow-y, flip them. If they cook too quickly, reduce the heat so that they all get a nice crispy crust but also cook through. This took me about 20 minutes, all said.
5. Meanwhile, chop that bacon up into bite-sized pieces! Make sure your scallions are in order too.
5. Assembly! Toss the cooked delicata and caramelized onions and garlic together with the juice of the limes. Serve on two plates over the quinoa with a sprinkle of scallions and bacon. Add salt, pepper, and extra lime juice to taste.
NOTE: On a second go, I would probably whisk a teaspoon or two of honey or agave into the lime juice before tossing. I think the salad could handle a little more sweetness to contrast the smokey bacon and the fresh scallions.
Insider tip: Add a few crumbles of ricotta, bleu cheese, or feta to kick it up a notch. What the heck, make it a meal and add an egg. Then it can be like a breakfast salad, because why not?