A mix of spicy Moroccan seasoned chickpeas is stuffed into hearty squash boats and topped with glazed walnuts and fresh mint to make this flavor-packed vegan meal.
I love spicy food! I’m not sure how apparent that is from the blog: to a certain degree, my husband keeps me in check. There’s a big disparity in our levels of spice tolerance. Also, I try to keep most of my dishes at a heat level that works for most people. But every now and then I’ve got to go all out and really turn up the heat.
So when I heard about the new cookbook entitled Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen, you bet I was game for giving it a try. Guys, if you’re all about the heat, you should get this book. But there’s more to it than that — as you might figure from the name, it’s not just about spicy food, but all kinds of super flavorful vegan food. There are three chapters focused on different bold vegan flavors: savory, spicy, and sweet. Plus another chapter on staples for those of us who like to cook up our own bold seasonings and sauces and the like.
I was compelled to pick a spicy recipe. :) The Moroccan flavored stuffed squash is intense, and yes, there’s a lot of heat going on. But even if you cut back on the heat (which you totally can — see the recipe notes) there’s just a lot going on flavor-wise, and it works beautifully. The squash is stuffed with a mix of chickpeas and carrots, with the heat coming from harissa sauce. But in addition to that you’ve got some subtle sweet notes coming from pomegranate molasses, and savory coming from sesame oil. I never would’ve thought to use sesame oil for sautéing in a recipe like this, but it was awesome. Everything gets seasoned up with ras el hanout, which is a toasty Moroccan spice blend.
The recipe lets you use whatever variety of summer squash you like, so I went for good old yellow squash, but if you’re one of those lucky gardeners with a ton of zucchini to use up, they’ll totally work too. I think the filling would even be awesome stuffed into a winter squash like butternut, and winter squash season is right around the corner.
I’m looking forward to pretty much cooking my way through all of Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking — every single recipe appeals to me. But the next few on my list to try are the Five-Spice Teriyaki Bowl, Piri Piri Pit-za, and Miso Sweet Cookies. (Yes! That’s cookies with miso in them!)
Moroccan Flavored Stuffed Squash
- 2 tbsp 30 ml Pomegranate Molasses (page 186 [see note])
- 2 tsp 10 ml reduced-sodium tamari
- 4 tsp 20 ml roasted pistachio oil, peanut oil or sesame oil, divided
- 1 tbsp 6 g Ras el Hanout (page 159 or store bought [see note]), divided
- ½ cup 60 g walnut halves
- 4 summer squashes of choice, I used a little over 2 pounds [940 g] of Mexican squash
- 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup 40 g minced shallot
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp smoked sea salt, or to taste
- 1 ½ cups 256 g cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup 240 g Harissa Paste (page 165 [see note])
- Fresh mint leaves or parsley, for serving
- Avocados, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small bowl, whisk to combine the molasses, tamari, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of oil and 1 teaspoon (2 g) of ras el hanout. Add the walnuts to the bowl of molasses mixture and stir to combine. Remove the walnuts with a fork, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Set the bowl aside for later use. Transfer the walnuts to a small baking pan lined with parchment paper, and bake until dry and toasted, about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Set aside to cool.
- Increase the oven heat to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7). Halve the squashes lengthwise, and hollow each half out but don’t go too close to the skin so as not to break the shell. Chop the flesh you removed and set aside.
- Lightly brush each shell inside and out with the molasses mixture. There might be leftovers of the mixture; set aside if that’s the case. Place the squashes in a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking pan, and bake until fork-tender, about 18 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of oil on medium heat. Add the carrots, reserved chopped squash flesh, shallot, garlic, salt and remaining 2 teaspoons (4 g) of ras el hanout. Cook until the carrots start to soften, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chickpeas and cook for another minute. Add the harissa spread and stir to thoroughly combine. Cook for another 4 minutes.
- Fill each squash shell with the chickpea preparation. If there is leftover molasses mixture, drizzle it on top. Top with chopped walnuts and chopped mint leaves. Serve with chopped or sliced avocado if desired.
From the book: There is so much flavor packed into something as small as a squash in this recipe! While the filling isn’t overly spicy, it still has a bit of a kick. If you are sensitive, replace ¼ cup to 1/3 cup (60 to 80 g) of the Harissa Spread with the same quantity of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Also note that if you use store-bought ras el hanout, adjust the quantity to taste depending on the heat. If the mix contains salt, adjust the quantity of salt as well. Alissa's notes: I used store-bought pomegranate molasses, ras el hanout, and harissa paste. I also used yellow summer squash and replaced half of the Harissa paste with crushed tomatoes. It still had a nice kick.