Acorn Squash Stuffed with Venison, Fennel and Moroccan Spices

September 24, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

It's fall, and the squash in the markets start calling. Acorn squash is the perfect size to cut in half and stuff for two people for a nice dinner (or one with leftovers!). You could make this with any ground protein - beef, turkey, or lamb. The venison is very lean, and it lends itself well to the spices, but also accentuates the sweetness of the squash. The tang of the yogurt and the cheddar also contrast well with the sweetness, and provide some creaminess to the dish. This comes together quickly, and you can easily make a nice green salad while the squash cooks or roast some cumin glazed carrots along with the squash. —Burnt Offerings

What You'll Need
  • 1 large acorn squash, cut in half, and seeded
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground venison (or beef, turkey, or lamb)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fiber. Place the squash halves, cut side up in a glass baking dish so they fit snugly. If necessary, cut a very narrow slice off the bottom of the squash halves so that they sit upright in the dish.
  3. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt over the squash halves, and pour 1/2 cup of water into the baking dish (Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may need more water - you want it to come up about an inch around the bottom of the squash). Microwave the squash halves on high for 5-6 minutes. Remove the squash halves, pour out the water, and lightly oil the baking dish and the squash halves with baking spray and place them back in the baking dish.
  4. Heat the TBL of olive oil, and saute' the venison, onion and fennel in a skillet until the vegetables are soft, and the venison is crumbled and cooked through. About 8 minutes. (NOTE: if you use lamb, I would brown the lamb separately and drain it, before adding it to the sauteed vegetables. Venison has nearly no fat to it, and does not need to be drained).
  5. Added the dried cranberries, chopped garlic and salt, pepper, and spices, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Taste the filling and adjust seasonings as needed.
  7. Scoop the filling into the acorn squash, packing it tightly and mounding it on the top.
  8. Bake at 400' for 20 minutes.
  9. After 20 minutes, top the squash with shredded or sliced cheddar cheese and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
  • ChefFace

4 Reviews

Burnt O. September 25, 2012
It's a pretty versatile recipe using those spices, or others. You could use feta instead of cheddar to make it more "Moroccan". It was simply what I had on hand. I actually liked the creamier texture of the cheddar, and it's such a classic contrast with the squash flavor - I loved it. I might sprinkle in some mint at the end too. You might be able to grill them if you steamed the squash in the microwave a little longer, or par baked the shells first. The filling is cooked, so no harm there.
ChefFace January 23, 2013
Thanks for the suggestions! I actually did use feta, and added cardamom. I had to bake the squash a bit before I put the filling in, but other than that it was lovely, thanks ;)
ChefFace September 25, 2012
YUM! I am absolutely going to try this for my family for a football game next weekend when I have access to my friends that hunt on a regular basis and need to use up venison! I wonder if you could make these more shallow and grill them..
Burnt O. September 25, 2012
Sorry - see reply above.