This Moroccan-style acorn squash recipe began when I “discovered” an acorn squash hiding among my produce. Although squash lasts a long time and doesn’t come with a “use by” date, I needed to use it sooner rather than later. In my book, wasting food is practically criminal.
So off I went to find a recipe that would be something other than the tried-and-true roasted or baked squash. I do love to stuff acorn squash with apples and onions and there is nothing wrong with simply dusting the cavity with spices or cutting it up in chunks, but I was in the mood to improvise.
Using the inspiration of a beautiful post from The Bitten Word, I took the theme of squash with spices, nuts, and raisins and went in a rather different direction. Instead of a meat and bulgur mixture that included much of the flesh from the squash, I left the squash intact and filled it with rice and kale.
We’ll have to consult my friend Amanda, an American expat living in Marrakech, to find out if this dish bears any resemblance to real Moroccan food. In any event, we liked it. My husband and chief taste-tester, ever on the lookout for a snack, approved the dish even before it was served; when he spied leftover filling sitting in the pan as the squash heated in the oven, he grabbed a spoon and made quick work of it.
Moroccan-Style Vegetarian Stuffed Squash
Servings – 2 Cost – $5
- 1 acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ½ cup rice (I used jasmine, but plain long grain or basmati would work too)
- 3 ounces of large leaf kale (approximately 2 cups shredded) – I shred kale by rolling each leaf or a couple piled on top of one another, into a cigarette shape and slicing thin strips.
- ¼ cup diced shallots or onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts dry roasted
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: hot sauce
- Cutting board
- Large knife
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Large spoon for mixing
- 2 medium-sized spoons for filling squash
- Pan with low sides, just large enough to hold the two halves of the squash
- Medium size pan
- Small pot with cover for rice
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the acorn squash in half (carefully!), scoop out the seeds and membrane in the center, and slice the bottom of each half so that it will sit straight without leaning when it is stuffed.
- Lightly oil the pan with low sides (1 tablespoon or less) and place each half, cut-side down so that the hollowed-out center is facing down and covered by the bottom of the pan. Cook the squash for 35-40 minutes, until a fork will easily pierce the skin.
- While the squash is cooking prepare the filling.
- Cook the rice in the small pot and set aside, covered.
- Dry roast the pine nuts by tossing them over medium-high heat in the pan for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Shake the pan frequently and don’t let them burn. Put them aside. (Return them to the measuring bowl or place them elsewhere.)
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the medium size pan and cook the diced shallots or onion under a medium-low heat for about 3-5 minutes, until they become translucent. Add the shredded kale and the garlic, continuing to cook the mixture for about 5 more minutes until the kale is thoroughly cooked down.
- Add the spices, pine nuts, and raisins, then the rice, mixing the ingredients thoroughly together.
- Turn the acorn squash halves right side up and fill them with the mixture, patting it down and finally mounding it up, so that the mixture rises about 2 inches over the top of the squash. You can return the squash to the oven for 10 minutes to re-heat it or serve it “as is”, slightly warmer than room temperature.
Hot sauce on the side – sure, why not? Or better yet, put out harissa for those who like their food spicy. Even if you don’t add a piquant condiment, this Moroccan-style acorn squash squash is fragrant and inviting.