I’ve had chicken waldorf on the brain for about 2 weeks now. There’s this little deli near work that Mr. Big Flavors and I eat at about once a week. Sue’s Deli, it’s called. And while I tend to love all of the items on their menu (avocado wrap, black bean soup, and greek salad… to name a few), it’s the chicken waldorf side salad that particularly stands out to me. It always made fresh, very flavorful, healthy and surprisingly filling. The apples are crisp, the grapes are sweet, and the dressing is full of cinnamon and spice.
Evidently it’s a crowd pleaser because the last time we went someone had bought the entire batch before noon. It just goes to show how good it really is. (P.S. Who does that? Who orders the entire stash of chicken waldorf salad? Seriously… place that order the day before.) This is precisely when I started obsessing over chicken waldorf salad. Since I couldn’t rely on the good old lunch crowd to leave me a 1/2 cup of Sue’s delicious side dish, I figured it was about time I made my very own batch. Then, it could be all mine and I wouldn’t have to share.
It happened to be around the same time that Mr. Big Flavor’s co-worker from the Marker Farm out in Lockport gave us some pattypan squash from her garden. I had never eaten one of these orb-shaped squashes before, but I had seen plenty of stuffed pattypan squash recipes floating around the blogosphere. And, that’s how very simply it was decided that these beauties were getting stuffed with my new side salad obsession.
To make it more like a filling, and less like a salad, we did make some changes to the traditional waldorf salad. Like adding rice and a tub of mascarpone cheese. But your basic chicken, apple and celery ingredients are all included. I love how savory and sweet this dish is. It’s a perfect summer/fall transition dish. It’s comforting but not overly filling. And you don’t lose the taste of the squash at all. The components of the filling complement the taste of the squash, there isn’t one ingredient that overpowers any others.
The sweetness from the apple, celery, grapes, and mascarpone cheese balances the savory squash, chicken and walnut flavor. And, the texture is just as balanced. The nuts, apples, and celery provide that needed crunch, but it is all mellowed out by the soft squash exterior and creamy mascarpone cheese. Just make sure you scrape out enough of the squash interior so that you can stuff enough filling inside to fully enjoy the contrast of flavors and textures.
This recipe can be easily adapted to fit your dietary requirements. While the rice is a nice filler, it’s not absolutely necessary. Keeping a vegetarian lifestyle? Omit the chicken and add tofu instead. Or just add more of your favorite vegetables. Don’t have pattypan squash? Just make the waldorf stuffing and eat it as is!
Need another stuffed recipe?
Or another way to use up squash?