Running a meal planning business, I test LOTS of recipes – some flops, some with room for improvement, and some that are just knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark good. This recipe for chicken florentine over acorn squash is one of those winners.
When I first started playing with this recipe, I wanted to create a casserole that was reminiscent of my mom's chicken and broccoli casserole minus the cans of soup and with spinach instead of broccoli which tends to go a bit mushy. I also wanted to include some of the yummy squash from our farmbox that seems to accumulate on my kitchen counter.
The first rendition of chicken florentine, was…. meh. A bit watery and lacking in flavor. So I decided to up my game and prepare the different components separately before bringing them all together. This takes a teensy bit more time, but I PROMISE this dish is well worth it. Even my kids love it, but I mostly want it all for myself.
Lately I've been a bit obsessed with spinach, and I find it does best in a dish like this if it's blanched, plunged into ice water, and then squeezed to removed the excess liquid. This prevents the dish from being too watery.
While you're roasting the squash, you can layer the casserole and prepare the deliciously savory sauce. This dish can be easily modified if you are grain-free, gluten-free, or paleo with a couple of little tweaks below. You just might want to make double and freeze it the second one for later… it's so darn good.
Chicken Florentine over acorn squash – ingredients
- 1 large acorn squash
- 4 cups cooked chicken (either pull off a roasted chicken or cook up boneless, skinless breasts and/or thighs)
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons sprouted wheat flour, or use 1 T. arrowroot mixed with 2 T. filtered water
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups cream – Dairy-free? …Replace cream with bone broth
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, optional
- 1 lemon
Chicken Florentine over acorn squash – method
- Bring a large sauce pan half filled with filtered water to a boil. Blanch baby spinach in boiling water for just a few seconds. Drain and plunge spinach in a bowl of ice water. Drain again. Using clean hands, squeeze all excess water out of the spinach. When most of the liquid is removed, break apart the spinach and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place acorn squash onto oven grate whole. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until squash can be easily punctured with a fork. Allow to cool before handling.
- Once squash is cooled, slice in half. Use a large spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy center. The skin on acorn squash is edible, so it's your choice whether to leave it or remove it now. (I prefer without). Chop squash into 1 inch cubes.
- Turn on oven to preheat broiler.
- Chop cooked chicken into 1 inch cubes. Finely mince onion and garlic.
- In a 9×9 or equivalent casserole dish, layer the cubed squash and then the cubed chicken and finally the cooked spinach.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, add onion and sauté until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
If you are using flour: Sprinkle in the sprouted flour and sauté until golden. Slowly add broth (your are making a roux).
If you are using arrowroot + water: Add broth now. Add the slurry after adding the wine and cream below.
- When well combined, add white wine and cream (or extra broth). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until you have a thick creamy sauce.
- Grate optional parmesan cheese. Zest and juice the lemon. Remove sauce from heat once desired thickness has been reached and stir in half of the cheese and all of the lemon zest and juice.
- Pour sauce over squash, chicken, and spinach. Top with remaining parmesan cheese and place dish under broiler for a quick 2-3 minutes just until cheese is melted. Serve hot. Leftovers can be reheated in a pan on the stove.