stuffed delicata squash with salmon, wild rice, herbed goat cheese and spinach over pesto with sprouted pumpkin seeds

There isn’t a squash I haven’t fallen in love with – some more than others – but when I realized the delicata squash had a skin you could eat, it intrigued me to no end. I had to get my hands on some, stuff them and relish in no left over skins.

I found these charming yellow squash at our farmer’s market but I know you can find them at most grocery stores. Just try to locate similarly shaped / sized ones if you plan to buy more than one.

I chose to fill these with salmon, wild rice, spinach and herbed goat cheese – plating them over a quick homemade pesto and added some pumpkin seeds.

You Will Need:

* Wild Rice (or sub with favorite rice – can also get pre-cooked, steam in bag for time save)
* Delicata Squash
* Salmon (please, whenever you can afford it, buy wild caught – can pre-bake for time save)
* Spinach
* Herbed Goat Cheese
* Salt and Pepper
* Dried Oregano and Dried Basil
* Fresh Basil
* Cashews (roasted – can be lightly salted)
* Olive Oil
* Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds (optional)
* Parchment Paper

PLEASE NOTE: These pics and measurements below are for two squash as you will see. One filet of salmon per squash and one half of the cheese per squash – please choose how much cheese and salmon you will need based on how many people you are serving. If a main course I would serve three squash discs and another side. Otherwise, two discs should work as a starter or a light lunch.

If you have frozen salmon filets like I do, you’ll want to get those started first thing. They will take longer to bake, obviously. If not, cook them whenever you’re ready. The following cooking time is for frozen, but the prep is the same:

Take your fillets and place them on a piece of parchment three times the length of the salmon so you have, so it will be enough to fold over and tuck under like a package.

Drizzle with olive oil (TIP: place the salmon skin side up so when they are done it’s easier to get to the skin to peel it off).
TIP: Pre-bake the salmon to have on hand to make this a quick weeknight dinner

Take your top sides and fold over, then take your ends and fold them over and tuck underneath to keep the steam and the olive oil inside the parchment package.

Bake on 350 for 50 mins. I used to be able to bake these on 350 for 40 mins but I adjusted their location within the freezer to the top and for some reason now, I always need that extra 10 mins. Please bake till your filets are cooked through – if frozen, start with 40 mins and add additional time as needed. If fresh, bake to your liking.

Next you’ll want to start the rice – if your filets are frozen the rice should cook for about the same amount of time. But, check the package for cooking instructions.
TIP: Buy pre-cooked, steam in bag rice to have on hand to make this a quick weeknight dinner

When your rice is done and you’ve fluffed it, added your seasoning (to taste): salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil. Add a little olive oil (half a table spoon) and stir.

Then top with spinach (more than you’ll think is necessary as you know it breaks down considerably). Add another half a tablespoon of olive oil and stir. Leave the lid on to let the spinach reduce.

Take your goat cheese and break it up, dropping over the spinach leaves. Keep in mind the cheese measurement I mentioned above. Since this was for two squash I used the entire goat cheese packet.

Stir again, this will become a bit of a paste which is good. Keep the lid on so the spinach continues to wilt.

Your salmon is most likely done and a nice pink color. While it’s still hot, take the skin(s) off.

Shred the salmon within the parchment so it gathers up any left over juices and olive oil.

Throw all the salmon pieces in with the rice.

Stir and let sit. Taste and see if you’d like to add any additional seasoning.

Now you’ll need to get into your squash…

Cut off the ends but plan to only scoop out from one side.

Take a spoon and start working your way through the squash. It will only be hard at first to get that initial scoop out…

Discard the inside.

Take your spoon again and start filling each squash with your rice mixture. You’ll want to also have some way to shove the mixture all the way down the squash, pressing against the closed (but trimmed) other end. Some people use the flat side of a bar spoon, some people use a wooden spoon… You’ll find what works best for you.

Once filled, place the squash on their sides in a casserole dish or baking pan.

You’ll want to bake these until the squash is fork tender. VERY fork tender. All along the sides. Otherwise, when you go to cut into it, it will be hard and almost inedible. This will depend on the size of your squash so really take the time to test your squash for doneness the way you would your artichokes, for example.

For reference, I baked these on 400 for 50 mins. I have also cooked them on 400 for 40 mins. I have had different sized squash – please use your best judgement and fork method to check them prior to eating.

While they bake, make your pesto.

I take three handfuls of baby spinach, two handfuls of fresh basil, two handfuls of cashews and a couple glugs of olive oil (very scientific).

Blend away until creamy. Taste and see if you want to add any salt.

When the squash is done, and fork tender throughout, let cool just enough so you can handle them.

Decide how you want to plate them. I chose to cut all the squash for easy serving, on a platter where I placed the pesto and made a border with the seeds.

Plating separately, I put some pesto down, some seeds and two slices of the squash.

These can be filled with anything… Any holiday, I think, would work for these and the pesto was great with the leftover filling on its own!!!

Platter is from CB2

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