Baked Rice and Asiago Acorn Squash with Pear Grilled Salmon and Asparagus

by Alexandra

This dinner was definitely one of the easier ones I’ve made, and it involved few dishes, little chop-action, and a heck of a lot of flavor!
Best of all, it was inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients at the grocery store! Featuring: Acorn Squash, Asparagus, Bosc Pears, and smokey, aged Asiago Cheese. (Gotta love Caputo’s!)
For the Baked Rice:
In an 8×8 baking dish combine 1.5 cups of medium grain brown rice, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Give it a stir, and spread evenly into the pan. Drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil.
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a simmer. Pour over the dry rice. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 1 hour. Turn half-way through the baking process for even heat distribution.
Fluff, and serve immediately.
Wash and halve two Acorn Squash. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and lightly spray both the squash halves and a cookie sheet with olive oil. ( I used this amazing gadget called a Misto. So fabulous… You should get one.)
Then chop up 1/2 ripe bosc pear, 1 small onion, and 1 clove of garlic.
Mix it all up with the tiniest drizzle of olive oil, about 1/2 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon salt, fresh black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and best of all, 1/2 an ounce of grated Asiago Cheese. Leave the mixture in the bowl for about 5 minutes to let it “sweat.” Then scoop into the acorn squash halves, (evenly distributed) and set the cookie sheet into a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Turn 180 degrees half-way through the baking process for even heat distribution.

Wash some asparagus and trim off the starchy stems. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and dress with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set on top of two sheets of aluminum foil.

Wrap up the the foil around the asparagus into a cute foil package. (I made two packages)
Set onto the top rack of your grill (pre-heated on High) for about 15 minutes.

Spray your foil-lined grill pan with olive oil, (Gotta love that Misto!)
Lay out 2 large salmon fillets about 4 inches apart. Season with salt, black pepper, and 1 clove of minced fresh garlic.
Cover loosely with 1 sheet of aluminum foil, and add to the lower rack of the grill, over high heat. Cook for 6 minutes, remove foil, flip, replace foil, and cook for 1 more minute.
In the mean time…

In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 of a peeled, minced Bosc pear, 1/2 a small minced onion, 1/2 ounce of grated asiago cheese, 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, a little cardamom, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Remove the foil from the fish. Evenly spread the asiago-pear-onion topping over the fish. Move to the top rack, and remove the asparagus to the lower rack. Cook fish, uncovered, for 2-4 more minutes, or until flaky and tender.
Remove asparagus and fish at the same time, when fully cooked to your liking.

After 1 hour of baking, remove the rice from the oven. The Acorn squash should be removed too, if you timed it correctly.
Serve immediately.

If you are making this as a meal, and dinner is served at 6:30, do the following:
5:00 – prepare squash and rice
5:30- put rice into oven (middle rack), set timer for 1 hour
5:45 – place acorn squash into oven (lower rack) prepare asparagus
6:00 – place asparagus on upper grill rack, prepare salmon
6:10 – Add salmon to lower grill rack
6:20-6:25 – remove asparagus and salmon from grill
6:30 – remove rice and squash from oven
Serve food.