Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash
These irresistible honeynut squashes are stuffed with a Moroccan-inspired lamb filling and are sprinkled with a crispy brown-butter breadcrumb and feta topping. It's a beautiful main course that’s as fitting on a weeknight table as on a special occasion menu. Honeynut squash has a rich, sweet flesh, but if you can't find it you can use acorn squash instead (since acorn squash isn't quite as rich or sweet as honeynut, I suggest adding a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to each roasted squash cavity before stuffing).
Servings: 4 people
- Cooking spray
- 3 honeynut or 2 acorn squashes, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out and discarded
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound ground lamb
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup gluten-free or regular panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Roast the squash
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast until tender, 25-30 minutes for honeynut squash, or 40-50 minutes for acorn squash. Remove the pan from the oven and flip each squash over so that the cut side is facing up. Set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 550˚F. Do Ahead: The squash can be roasted up to 8 hours in advance. Leave at room temperature.
Make the lamb filling
While the squash cooks, make the filling. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the lamb, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through (if the lamb releases a lot of fat while cooking, spoon it off as it cooks). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate and discard the drippings.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Sprinkle in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir until fragrant. Pour in the chicken broth and give everything a good stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil. Return the meat to the skillet, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the pine nuts, mint and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.
Make the breadcrumb topping
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the butter is golden brown and smells nutty. Pour the butter over the breadcrumbs and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and then fold in the feta.
Assemble and bake
Season the squash halves with salt and pepper (if using acorn squash, I like to add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to each squash cavity since it's not as sweet as honeynut). Spoon the lamb filling into each squash cavity, mounding it firmly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over each squash, pressing them to adhere. Do Ahead: The stuffed squash can sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour.
Roast the stuffed squash in the 550˚F oven until the top is lightly browned and crisp, about 4-6 minutes. Garnish with additional mint and cilantro before serving.
Do ahead: The squash can be roasted up to 8 hours in advance (leave them at room temperature). You can stuff them up to 1 hour before baking.