Confession: I actually had intended to post this recipe back in December, but with all of my other seasonal recipes, I just couldn’t squeeze this one in!
But, I think it worked out for the best! Instead of sharing my Paleo Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash for Christmas, I get to share it with you just in time for Valentine’s Day! The awesome thing is, I think it actually works just as beautifully (if not more so) as an elegant, yet healthy Valentine’s Day dinner! This grain-free, AIP meal features acorn squash, grass-fed ground lamb, and a blend of veggies, fresh mint, dried fruit, cinnamon, and juicy pomegranate seeds for an exotic Moroccan feel.
So, this Valentine’s Day, get together with your date or best friends and try a Moroccan-themed dinner with this easy Paleo Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash! While it’s baking, whip up a batch of easy cauliflower couscous or roasted vegetables and my Mango Pomegranate Salad. For a simple and delicious dessert, pair some fresh figs and honey with with my Cinnamon Spice Ice Cream. Enjoy your special dinner on the floor complete with pillows, some wine, and “Casablanca” playing in the background! Your guest(s) will love your creativity almost as much as the food! 🙂
During my growing up years, one of my favorite things to do was to research and find new and fascinating restaurants for my family to try on birthdays and special occasions. (And to be honest, not much has changed!) The more unique and exotic, the better! So, I was in heaven when I first stumbled upon Moroccan cuisine, sitting on a pillow-covered floor, surrounded by new smells, tastes, and even belly dancers!
My younger self was probably more intrigued with the surroundings than with the food itself at the time, but I definitely remember the flavors at my first Moroccan restaurant, which were like nothing I’d ever had before. Lots of dried apricots, dates, raisins, and figs – not just for dessert, but chopped up and incorporated into the savory main courses! This mix of sweet and savory has become something I absolutely adore in cooking, so I knew I wanted to do my own take on a Moroccan-inspired meal.
Along with the dried apricots and raisins in this recipe, I felt like fresh fruit would really set it over the top. That’s exactly what the pomegranate seeds do! The juicy seeds combined with fresh mint not only make a beautiful garnish, but a tasty one, too!
To prepare my Paleo Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash, I started with the obvious – the squash. I chose acorn squash because of the neutral flavor and the pretty green skin, but this dish would be just a delicious if you used butternut or kabocha squash. No matter what squash you choose, the method is pretty similar.
You’ll want to halve your squash and scoop out the middle cavity to remove the pulp and seeds. Then drizzle each half with a bit of melted coconut oil and sprinkle them with some sea salt and cinnamon. The squash halves bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until the flesh is softened and lightly browned.
While the squashes bake, you can make the easy lamb filling. I selected lamb as my protein of choice since I haven’t yet featured it in a recipe here on the blog. It’s also a popular meat in Moroccan cooking, since the flavor tastes so amazing when mixed with fruit and mint. I found grass-fed lamb at my local grocery store, but if you have trouble sourcing some, feel free to use beef instead.
Before adding the lamb to a hot skillet, sauté some aromatic onions, carrots, and celery until they’re softened. Then, add the ground lamb and cook it until it’s browned. To the mixture, you’ll add in the dried chopped apricots, raisins, fresh mint, and apricot preserves. I used a fruit-sweetened apricot preserves to keep it AIP-friendly. (And if you have extra apricot preserves to use up, I recommend saving the rest to make my Sweet and Sticky Orange Ginger Wings!)
Once your filling is made, generously stuff each baked squash half with lamb filling. I really piled it on, since it’s a main course. Pop the tray of filled squashes back into the oven to bake for a bit longer. While they’re finishing, de-seed a pomegranate or two and enjoy the aroma of your Moroccan meal that is almost ready to eat!
After removing your Paleo Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash from the oven for the last time, sprinkle them generously with pomegranate seeds and extra fresh chopped mint. Your dinner is served! I loved digging into the lamb filling and getting a big forkful of it with the roasted squash. The cinnamon comes through, giving it a warm, earthy flavor. And the lamb and veggie filling is lightly sweet, which tastes delicious with the more savory squash.
I really hope my Paleo Moroccan Lamb Stuffed Squash is something unique and special that you can enjoy on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, but also on any day of the week! Let the savory lamb, sweet apricots and raisins, and tart pomegranate seeds give you a little taste of Morocco without having to leave your home!
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, divided
- 1 lb ground grass-fed lamb
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 cup diced carrots
- ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
- ¼ cup raisins
- 3-4 tablespoons fruit-sweetened apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds and pulp. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. Sprinkle each half with a pinch of cinnamon and sea salt. Bake squash on a baking sheet for 35 minutes.
- While squash is baking, sauté onion for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent. Add in carrots, celery, and fresh ginger. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add in ground lamb and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Once lamb is browned and cooked through, stir in raisins, apricots, preserves, apple cider vinegar, mint, and spices. Cook for another minute, until everything is combined. Remove from heat.
- Stuff filling into squash halves and reduce oven temp to 400 degrees. Place stuffed squash back into the oven for 10 minutes.
- Garnish stuffed squash with fresh pomegranate seeds and chopped mint.