Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

Morrocan-style stuffed acorn squash

Morrocan-style stuffed acorn squash

I think this is the third time in two weeks that I’ve made winter squash something. Just a year ago, I was a skeptic of anything pumpkin-y in flavor (e.g. butternut squash, acorn squash, even sweet potatoes are pushing it for me). I guess I should tell you guys right off the bat, I despise pumpkin pie. It makes me physically gag. I hate it, loathe it. The smell, consistency, everything about it. My weird aversions to pumpkin pie have halted me from trying out other pumpkin-y squashes. On the other hand, I LOVE pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream,  pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cookies……weird, right? I use sugar pumpkin puree in my pumpkin bread recipe and I love how it enhances the flavor and moisture in the bread. I also use pumpkin puree in cornbread (my mother-in-law’s idea). I guess what I really don’t like is it’s natural mushy form.

But now, I will have you know, my taste buds are evolving. My love affair started when I was introduced to Mr. butternut squash. I found recipe after recipe of new and exploratory ways to use him. He’s the best in savory dishes, like my all-time favorite, butternut squash risotto. It’s the epitome of comfort food. I have yet to make him in a soup (next adventure for me). Now that I’ve gotten used to the idea, that not all squash are created equal, I delved into different winter squashes, like Miss Acorn squash. Now I’m bursting at the seams with new recipe ideas and unique ways to cook it, bake it, roast it, you name it. I’ll be sure to share my winter squash journey with you all.

Now, back to the recipe. What’s so extraordinary about this dish is it plays as a meal and serving bowl, all in one. Once cut in halves, acorn squash make the perfect shell for filling. Cinnamon and nutmeg lend this stuffed squash a warm flavor that makes it perfect for Fall’s notorious cooler days and nights. The original recipe calls for Bulgar wheat. I didn’t have any on hand, and had no desire to leave the house just for Bulgar, so I elected to use quinoa and orzo for the filling. It worked superbly!

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For starters, you will need two acorn squashes

Cut acorn squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Bake face down for 35 minutes.

Cut acorn squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Bake face down for 35 minutes.

Mix up the filling and stuff each thinned out acorn squash shell. Bake for another 15 minutes Combine all of the ingredients for the filling and stuff thinned-out, acorn squash shells.
After eash shell is substantially stuffed with filling, bake for another 15 minutes

After each shell is substantially stuffed with filling, bake for another 15 minutes.

Makes four filling servings.

Makes four filling servings.

To make this vegetarian, I would substitute soy ground meat, or just double up on the orzo/quinoa mixture. Also replace the chicken broth with vegetable stock, or water.

Ingredients

This recipe was mostly adapted from the October 2009 edition Martha Stewart Living magazine with a few changes on some ingredients.

  • Two medium acorn squashes, cut in halves and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (The original recipe calls for water, but you can also use vegetable broth for more flavor)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, place squash cut side down. Bake for 35 minutes. While squash is baking, prepare the filling. In a large cooking pot over a medium-high heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add ground turkey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and one teaspoon of salt. Cook until brown (about 5 to 7 minutes), drain meat, leaving juices still in the pan, and place turkey in a bowl. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent. Next add minced garlic. Cook for another minute. Next, add quinoa and orzo, and stir until combined. Pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15-18 minutes. Fluff quinoa and orzo, add cooked meat, raisins, cilantro, pine nuts, and last teaspoon of salt. After baking the acorn squash, scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon, so that you have 1/4 inch thick shell. Add scooped flesh to the rest of the filling mixture, and mix until combined. Spoon filling into cavities of each baked squash, creating a nice little mound on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Serves four.


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10 Comments

  • Jennie
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    hi! I am actually cooking your recipe right now! I noticed in your recipe it calls for cilantro, but in the directions says parsley! I hope your intent was cilantro- bc that is what I have! I am making ethe stuffing ( minus the squash part) now to save time tonight! It smells delicious! ok… I admit.. I tasted the meat-orzo-Quiona mixture and it is delicious just like that! super excited for tonights meal! thanks!

  • Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

    Hi Jennie – I hope you enjoy this recipe! I fixed the directions to cilantro (thanks for catching that!). I would love to know how it turned out! – Eliza

  • Jennie
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    It was wonderful! We invited my parents over and everyone was scraping the sides of their ” squash bowls”to get every last bite! My three year old even tried it after seeing the rasins! I was worried about the cilantro/parsley so I looked up a few other recipes for it and opted for dry parsley and it came out fine :) thanks for the recipe- this one is a keeper!

  • Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:40 PM | Permalink

    Jennie – I’m so glad to hear that everyone liked it! -E

  • Tonya
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    Must be fate that I’ve stumbled upon your blog via Google searches twice in the last week. Then I saw this Moroccan stuffed squash recipe. I haven’t tried it yet (already used the squash and was Googling roasting the seeds)but I’m pretty sure this is what angels are fed in Heaven. Making it next week! Thanks!

  • Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Permalink

    Tonya – It is fate!! :-) Let me know if you have any questions about substitutions for ingredients. Hope you like it! -Eliza

  • alyssa
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    i’m about to cook it right now, but question – do you boil the orzo before you cook it with the other stuff or does it get soft from being in the olive oil for so long? thanks!!

  • Posted November 25, 2010 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

    Hi Alyssa – It will actually cook along with the quinoa in the broth before you stuff and bake. Hope you enjoy it and Happy Thanksgiving! -Eliza

  • misty
    Posted February 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I’ve been making it in bulk and freezing individual portions for a healthy, homemade frozen dinner. My hubby and I love it!!

  • Posted February 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    Hi Misty,

    Freezing this recipe in bulk is such a great idea! Glad you and your husband like the recipe:)

    -E

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