Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, it is now officially autumn. Weather-wise, it came early this year up here in northeast Ohio; the trees are already turning, which usually doesn’t really begin to ramp up until the second week of October in this neck of the woods, and my winter wardrobe’s migration towards the front of our closet is also a bit premature.  It’s the last week of the season for our CSA and Beloved has begun clearing out our own gardens, as well.

I don’t think we’ll be buying as many apples this year, as we still have plenty of applesauce from last year, but I’m really looking forward to some apple-based dishes, both sweet and savory, and I’m going to try and make some apple cider jelly.

We’ve decided not to do a CSA share next year, but rather get our summer produce from our own gardens and supplement with purchases from local farmer’s markets.  There’s only so much we can consume, even with Darling Daughter back home and The Young One here for the summer and holidays, and some of what we grew ourselves simply went unharvested – mostly leafy greens – because we just couldn’t eat it all.

Winter squashes are in full swing about now, and my obsession with cooking and stuffing them continues unabated.  Last week, it was Mexican-inspired stuffed spaghetti squash; this week, it’s a Moroccan-flavored lamb and quinoa mixture heaped inside roasted acorn squash.

Acorn squash isn’t my favorite – that spot is reserved for butternuts and kabochas – but we had two we’d acquired through our CSA share and I decided, since they were sitting there on the counter, just staring me in the face, that I probably should do something with them.  I wasn’t in the mood for soup (that happened last night with our lone sweet dumpling squash), but another stuffed squash sure sounded like a good idea.  It wasn’t long before I was pulling the last pound of ground lamb from our freezer and the bag of sprouted quinoa from the pantry.

It turns out it was an excellent idea – this was just delicious (frankly, I’d have been happy eating just the filling; it was that good).  Darling Daughter and I shared one half between the two of us, while Beloved inhaled an entire half all on his own.  This is also one of those dishes that is even better the next day, and it reheats beautifully.

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash. Liven up that ordinary roasted acorn squash with lamb, quinoa and curry powder.

Click the image to enlarge

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut the squashes in half, lengthwise, and scoop the seeds from the center. Rub each half with the olive oil; place cut side down on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. While the squash is in the oven, cook the lamb in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks with a large wooden spoon. Once it has barely begun to brown, add the onion and continue cooking until most of the fat has rendered from the meat and the onion has softened. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and salt and pepper and cook until the meat is cooked through and the mixture is fragrant.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and stir in the pistachios, raisins and quinoa, mixing well. Set aside.
  5. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Turn it over so that the cut sides are facing up and spoon the lamb/quinoa mixture into the centers, packing it in as necessary, until all of the filling has all been used.
  6. Reduce the heat to 350 F and return the stuffed squash halves to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully cut each in half lengthwise before serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 396 calories, 21.5g total fat, 41.4mg cholesterol, 512.4mg sodium, 833.2mg potassium, 39.6g carbohydrates, 5.1g fiber, 11.7g sugar, 14.8g protein

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs

Earlier this week when I asked my daily “What do you want for dinner?” Beloved started rummaging around in the freezer.  After a few moments I heard, “Hey – we’ve still got a couple of pounds of ground lamb out here.”

So we took it out, and all that was left was to decide what to make out of it.

While I love lamb, ground lamb always seem to taste “stronger” to me than regular cuts – it’s probably due to the amount of fat.  It holds up well to bold flavors, though, so I decided something Moroccan-spiced might be in order.  After perusing the contents of my cupboard, fridge and spice rack I found myself putting this together.

Holy moly!  This was just marvelous.  The meatballs were moist and tender and deliciously spiced, and the sauce complimented them wonderfully; I served it over quinoa and alongside a summer squash sauté (I’m still trying to get rid of that stuff).  We loved it so much that we ate the leftovers for lunch for the next two days – it makes a ton.  I imagine it would freeze quite well, too.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; the vast majority are spices, and this comes together pretty quickly and easily.  I like to pre-bake meatballs for dishes like this; it helps the meatballs keep their shape and renders out some of the fat so that you don’t end up with a greasy sauce.  In fact, both the calorie and fat content in the nutritional info are probably overstated somewhat because of this.

The best thing about this recipe – well, other than the fact that it’s incredibly delicious?  It’s paleo, and Whole30 compliant to boot.

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs.  Tender lamb meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce.  Fragrant and flavorful!

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped raisins
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olives
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 28-ounce can petite-diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Gently, but thoroughly, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form into 24 meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are in the oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Sweat the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; add the garlic cinnamon stick, cumin and coriander and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes more.
  • Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients except for the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs. Continue simmering until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.
  • Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 29.1g total fat, 165.1mg cholesterol, 899.8mg sodium, 1044.7mg potassium, 25.5g carbohydrates, 6.1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, 35.4g protein
Instructions

 

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs

TGIF.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Personal (read: unbloggable) life keeps rolling on, eating up a lot of my time, but at least I’m not bored.  At any rate, I do have a really tasty recipe for you today.

If you were at all wondering what to do with any leftover ground lamb/liver/bacon from the Lamb Dirty Rice – and there will be – this recipe is it.

Boy, is it…it.

I’ve gotten to the point where, if I want The G Man to eat something he doesn’t like (anything that resembles a vegetable, for example), I hide it in meatloaf or meatballs.  The Young One, too – he absolutely loathes zucchini and summer squash, but he’ll scarf it down if I shred it and stick it in a meatloaf.  This recipe hides nutrient-dense liver – you can’t even tell it’s there, with all the bacon and spices.

These come together really quickly, are ready in less than 20 minutes and simply just delicious.  You can use just about any ground meat/liver from the appropriate animal you like, too (chicken, beef, pork) – the bacon keeps the meatballs moist and you can adjust the spices to suit your personal tastes.

These would be quite good served with the Red Onion Jam I posted earlier this week.

Note:  Make sure your bacon is “clean” and these are Whole30 compliant.  (Oh, look – I still do that.)

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs. Easy and nutritious, your family will never guess what's hiding in these delicious little meatballs.

Click the image to enlarge

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 3 ounces lamb liver, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Form into 16 meatballs of equal size, and place on the slotted top of a broiler pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/red-onion-jam/” target=”_blank”]Red Onion Jam[/url].
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 428 calories, 35.3g total fat, 195.7mg cholesterol, 902.48mg sodium, 346.5mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21g protein

 

Lamb Dirty Rice

I can’t begin to tell you what compelled me to make dirty rice for Sunday brunch and serve it with Sous Vide pork belly (recipe forthcoming).  In fact, I can’t remember why I thought to make dirty rice in the first place – I’d never cooked it before, and I can’t really remember ever eating it.  Which simply cannot be, but I just don’t remember.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

At any rate, I’m so glad I did – this was simply incredible.  Now that I’ve made it, and know what I’ve been missing, I will make it again.  And again. And again.

It is just THAT good.

Dirty Rice is a classic Cajun dish consisting of rice, the Holy Trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper, bacon and some sort of meat – either ground pork or sausage, and often including chicken livers.  It can be made very spicy, or not spicy at all, whatever suits your palate.

This version isn’t spicy – the inclusion of an entire tablespoon of Cajun seasoning only gives it a bit of a tingle – but it packs a ton of flavor.  What made me decide to deviate from the norm of ground pork and chicken livers was simple convenience – I’m running a bit short on pork (we’ll be sourcing this year’s hog soon), but have 12 full pounds of ground lamb in the freezer.  I also would have had to thaw at least a pound of chicken livers, when I only needed half a cup, minced, but I had the liver from our lamb in there, which only ran about 6 or so ounces.  It seemed like a no-brainer, and you know me – I have no problem shaking things up with a recipe.

The result?  DELICIOUS.  Since I can’t remember eating dirty rice in the past, I can’t tell you how different it might be from a traditional preparation, and while the lamb flavor was noticeable, it was not at all overwhelming.  An impressive and easy dish – and it makes a ton.  Those six servings are quite generous.

Note: The rice preparation is my go-to for rice, and you can make it with just about any amount of rice and with whatever liquid you prefer.  Just keep the proportions to 1 part rice to 2 parts water – follow the directions closely and it will never fail.  Who needs a rice cooker?

Lamb Dirty Rice. The classic and delicious Cajun rice dish with a twist!

Click the image to enlarge

Lamb Dirty Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from[url href=”http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/dirty_rice/” target=”_blank”] Simply Recipes[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup finely diced lamb liver
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice and 3 cups of the chicken broth in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir the rice; cover with a clean dish towel and the lid and let it site for 10 minutes.
  2. Spread the rice out on a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over it. Mix to combine and set aside.
  3. While the rice is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet or pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, including the rice, over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp.
  4. Increase the heat to high and add the ground pork, breaking it up as it begins to brown. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, and continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables are soft and beginning to turn golden.
  5. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken stock and the diced lamb liver, stirring up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the Cajun seasoning and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until most of the chicken stock has boiled away.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cooked rice. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 570 calories, 32g total fat, 125.4mg cholesterol, 671mg sodium, 524.2mg potassium, 46.6g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 22g protein

Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs

Well, hello there.   I know I haven’t posted in a month, and I apologize, but I’ve needed this break in the worst possible way.  Part of the problem is that I stare at a computer screen all day and most days the last thing I want to do is go home and stare at it some more.  Another part of the problem is all of my “photography stuff” got consigned to the basement over the holidays and I have so not been motivated to run up and down those stairs looking for appropriate place settings for pictures.  And it’s also the dead of winter, which in northeast Ohio means NO sunlight, which means using artificial lighting for photos and I’ve gotten to the point where I hate that.

Yeah, I know – excuses, excuses.  At any rate, I’m not going to make any promises about the frequency of posting in the near future, but I think I’m ready to get back into the saddle again, at least on a provisional basis.

Even with all of the above-mentioned excuses, I’ve managed to photograph a thing or three I’ve cooked over the last month (when the stars were aligned just so); this is one of them.  And it is very, very good – Beloved keeps asking me when I’m going to make it again, and we argued over what little leftovers there were the next day.  It’s also incredibly simple, and these days, that’s a huge plus.

If you look at the photo, you’ll see this is served over something you might think is lentils, and you’d be 100% correct – it’s a sprouted lentil pilaf, and it was really delicious.  In the wake of all the brouhaha about resistant starch, we’ve been incorporating a moderate amount of properly prepared legumes (soaked, sprouted or fermented, which deactivates much, albeit not all, of the lectins and phytates) back into our diet.  Which makes me happy, because I’ve always liked them.

If you wish to avoid legumes for whatever reason, these would be very nice served over just about any vegetable puree or steamed white rice.  Make those itty bitty, cocktail-sized meatballs, and they’d make a great appetizer, too.

The meatballs would also work well made with ground pork or turkey if you can’t find or don’t care for lamb.

Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Meatballs.  These little gems are delicious - bright and exotic.

Click the image to enlarge

Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/pomegranate-molasses/” target=”_blank”]pomegranate molasses[/url]
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix together the lamb, garlic, salt, coriander, cardamom and pepper until combined; form into meatballs. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the meatballs until golden and just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Brush with pomegranate molasses, making sure to coat the meatballs completely, and return to the oven until glazed, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and pistachios and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 384 calories, 21.5g total fat, 101.3mg cholesterol, 581.8mg sodium, 1104.5mg potassium, 17.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 28.8g protein