I’ve been wanting to make something with winter squash this fall and have just gotten around to it with this post. Most of the winter squash can be a bit of a pain to prepare. They are usually very hard and difficult to peel and cut. Recently, I read that delicata squash can be cooked without peeling and that got my attention. I decided to try a risotto made with this variety of squash. Cutting the squash and removing the seeds proved to be very easy.
The distinctive yellow color and green stripes make these squash a great fall decoration. When cooked, I would describe the flavor as a cross between butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Delicata squash are delicious when sliced and roasted with olive oil and salt.
As I was thinking about this dish, I remembered a stacked entree that I had in a restaurant a couple of years ago. I decided to create a stack with the risotto, sauteed spinach, and pecan encrusted salmon. This presentation makes an impressive main course and assembles very easily. The only challenge I faced was finding a form to create the stack. I looked around my kitchen and realized I didn’t have anything that would work. I went to my favorite kitchen store and did not find anything there either. As I was talking to the salesperson, I had a great idea. A 28 ounce tomato can, which I had in the pantry, was exactly the right size. I simply opened both ends of the can to form a cylinder. The can worked brilliantly and made assembly very easy.
One note about the spinach…once you have wilted the spinach, drain it very well. If there is too much moisture in the spinach, you’ll end up with a puddle of water around the stack.
I chose to keep this dish on the healthier side, but if you want to make it a little decadent, serve it with a brown butter sauce.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups delicata squash, cut in half, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch dice (peeling not necessary)
- 1 cup chopped shallots
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1/2 cup quality white wine
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 4 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper
- 4 6 oz salmon filets
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 9 oz packages of fresh spinach
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1. Heat chicken stock in a pan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
- 2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and squash and saute until shallots are translucent.
- 3. Add rice to the skillet and stir until rice is completely coated with oil and becoming translucent.
- 4. Add wine and cook until wine has evaporated.
- 5. Add one ladle of chicken stock to rice mixture stirring until the stock has evaporated. Continue this process, one ladle of stock at a time, until the rice is done and slightly al dente. Continue stirring through this process.
- 6. Add butter and Parmesan cheese and stir until butter and cheese is melted and well blended with rice.
- 7. Add salt to taste.
- 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- 2. Mix mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Spread a layer of mixture on the top of each salmon filet.
- 3. Mix chopped pecans, bread crumbs, parsley, melted butter, and salt.
- 4. Top each salmon filet with pecan mixture, pressing the mixture down into the mayonnaise.
- 5. Place salmon on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness of filets. The salmon is done when it feels slightly firm and begins flaking.
- 1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- 2. Add spinach, one bag at a time, turning the spinach with tongs until it begins to wilt. Add other bag of spinach, continuing to turn the spinach with tongs. Cook only until all leaves are wilted. Do not overcook.
- 3. Add salt to taste.
- 4. Drain moisture from spinach.
- 1. Open 28 oz. can of tomatoes. Remove tomatoes from the can and open the bottom of the can, leaving a large cylinder that is open on both ends.
- 2. Place the can in the middle of a plate. Put 3/4 cup of risotto into the can and press down with the back of a large spoon. (I have a round potato masher that worked well.). Place 1/4 of the spinach on top of risotto and lightly press down.
- 3. Carefully lift the can off of the risotto and spinach.
- 4. Top each stack with a salmon filet.