While I am not 100% sure that everything is better with bacon… I would say that for every 5 dishes I cook, at least 3 of them are (or would be!) better with the addition of rich, salty, and smoky bacon. And you guys, seasonal fall produce + bacon = perfection!
Last week, I shared a recipe for Simply Roasted Butternut Squash. Today, I’m combining that deliciously caramelized butternut squash with quinoa, bacon, and baby spinach to create a hearty and flavorful dish that can easily be a complete meal all on its own, or would make a great side dish or salad to share with family and friends this Thanksgiving.
Note: Be sure to rinse the quinoa well for about 2-3 minutes in cold water. There is a natural coating called saponin on the quinoa that is very bitter. Some brands say their product has been pre-rinsed – but I still rinse! It will drastically reduce any of that bitter flavor that is sometimes associated with quinoa.
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well in cold water
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of choice (I used chives and parsley)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups butternut squash, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn
- 2 tablespoons feta cheese
- 2 tablespoon dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the butternut squash and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Toss until squash is well coated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the squash for 35-40 minutes, turning once, until it is tender and caramelized. You could stop right here and just eat the entire pan of roasted butternut squash. Because it is so incredible delicious. Or you could move on to step 4.
- While the butternut squash is roasting, cook the quinoa. Add quinoa, water, dried herbs, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Place a kitchen towel (paper towel works too) over the pan and replace the lid. Set aside and let it cool.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the crumbled, cooked bacon and the red onions. Sauté until some of fat starts to render out of the bacon and the onions are tender. Stir in 2-3 cups of cooked quinoa with the bacon and onions. Remove from heat.
- Add the roasted butternut squash and baby spinach to the pan with the quinoa. Toss to combine it all together. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- This dish can be enjoyed right away or served at room temperature. If you'd like, sprinkle with crumbled feta and/or dried cranberries before serving.
- Note: If you would like to keep the spinach crisp, you can serve this Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa over top of a bowl of baby spinach, instead of tossing it all together.