Friday, October 1, 2010

Stuffed Butternut Squash Moroccan Style

I was given a nice little butternut squash from a friend's garden - probably about 7" tall.

(not my actual squash - photo is from the Wikipedia link above)

I love squash, but butternut is not my favorite variety*, so it sat on my kitchen counter for a couple of weeks. 

Then I saw some ground lamb at the grocery store. Aha! Stuffed squash! 

I really love the complexity of flavors of Moroccan food - the way the sweet and savory spices play off one another - so I decided to do something vaguely North African with the seasonings. 

I don't cook from recipes very often; I look at them for inspiration, so this will not be a recipe per se, but more like a general guideline (sort of like the Pirates' Code) for making a similar dish. 

Split the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Pour about an inch of water in the bottom of a baking dish and place the squash halves in the dish, cut side down. Bake at 350 until tender (baking time will depend on how old - and how big - your squash is). 

While the squash bakes, drizzle some olive oil into a skillet and brown 3/4-1 lb of ground lamb with a chopped onion and minced garlic. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Other than the last item, I have no idea how much of each seasoning I used. I cook by instinct, remember? When the onion is transparent, remove pan from heat and set aside. Cover it so the cat doesn't jump up on the counter and get into it. Or just shut him in the basement for the duration.

Remove the cooked squash halves from the baking dish and pour off the water. I cut the stem end from each half and diced & scooped out the flesh from those stem ends. That left me with two "bowls" and a nice pile of diced squash. 

I filled the "bowl" end of each squash half with about 1/4 of the meat mixture, and placed them in opposite corners of the baking dish. I then combined the diced squash from the stem ends with the remaining meat mixture and spooned the resulting mixture into the other corners of the dish. I poured a 5-ounce can of Low Sodium V8 juice over the works, and popped it back in the oven for probably 10-15 minutes. I may have put a piece of foil over the dish to keep everything from drying out. It wouldn't be a bad idea to do so...

It was delicious. The squash was moist and tender due to baking in the water bath. The stuffing had a wonderful blend of flavors due to the Moroccan-influenced spices. 

This served three adults nicely.

I toyed with adding some golden raisins to the meat mixture, and I think I will do just that next time. Pine nuts would be good, too. 


*Butternut squash stuffed ravioli are awesome. I don't make ravioli from scratch - too much work. Biaggi's restaurant makes a wonderful butternut squash ravioli, however, and Lean Cuisine now sells a "spa meal" butternut squash ravioli frozen dinner that's quite tasty. 


  1. Love the bit about the cat, and will surely be stuffing a squash a la Kate very soon. (So your squash wasn't string-y, then?)

  2. No, not stringy at all. I think it was because it was baked cut side down in the water. Being a smallish one might have helped, too.

    That cat has no scruples whatsoever anymore. He's so old that I think he just doesn't give a damn. Either that or he has kitty dementia.

  3. I have another kind of squash that I think I will use with variations on your theme. Thanks, Kate.

    Figaro, our older cat, will do the same. He's just unscrupulous. Also, long, lean, and always hungry!

    Oh, and a belated happy birthday.