Whew... the holidays are over and the new year has begun. It's a great time to try something different that's maybe not in your everyday recipe box. Enter these delightfully delicious and easy to make stuffed squash. Warm and satisfying with aromatic Moroccan spices, they are fancy enough for a dinner party but easy enough for a weeknight dinner. I served them for lunch to a group of ladies over the holidays, they LOVED them! Happy New Year everyone.
Moroccan Wild Rice & Turkey Stuffed Squash
6 small acorn squash, about 1 1/4 lbs each
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 t ground paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 T minced garlic (4 large cloves)
1 lb ground turkey (or lamb works well too)
2 c cooked wild rice blend
1 1/2 T tomato paste
8 pitted dates, chopped
1/2 c pistachios, chopped coarsely
4 T fresh mint, plus 2 T for serving
1 (7-oz) container whole-milk Greek yogurt, such as Fage
2 T fresh pomegranate seeds
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Turn each squash on its side and cut an inch off the stem end, removing and discarding the stem. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and the stringy parts of the squash. Slice a 1/4" off the bottom end so that they sit without wobbling. Put the squashes on a sheet pan open side up. Brush with 2 T of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until the flesh is tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Meanwhile, heat 1 T of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cinnamon, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Raise the heat to medium, and add the turkey and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Cook for 6-8 minutes, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add the tomato paste, dates, pistachios and the 3 T mint, cook for 2 more minutes. Set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Using a soup spoon, scrape about two tablespoons of flesh from each squash (you should have 3/4 c all together) and add it to the sauté pan with the turkey then add the cooked rice, mixing well. (depending on the size of your sauté pan you may find it easier to just put all into a large bowl in order to make mixing easier).
Spoon the turkey/rice filling into the hollowed out squashes, filling each one to the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. While the squash is cooking, combine the yogurt and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Serve hot with a dollop of seasoned yogurt, the reserved mint, and the pomegranate seeds. Serves 6.
Voted Best Caterer for Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties 2016