Feasting at Home : Stuffed Zapallito Squash with Moroccan Spiced lamb

July 31, 2013

Stuffed Zapallito Squash with Moroccan Spiced lamb

Zapallito Squash are round, globe-shaped summer squash, similar in flavor to zucchini, originating from Argentina. They make the perfect vessel for stuffing.  I found these at our local farmers market from Tolstoy Farms. They also go by "Pilar Squash" or "Zapallito Redondo de Tronco".  If you can't find them, you can substitute patty pan squash, yellow summer squash or even plain old zucchini. But if you have the inclination, try to seek them out,  if only for their cuteness.  In this recipe, the stuffing is made with ground lamb, dried apricots, pine nuts and fragrant Moroccan spices. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian by using ground seitan or mushrooms. Served over a bed of fluffed spiced quinoa and a minted yogurt sauce, it makes for a hearty flavorful dinner.

You can also just stuff them the way you like to stuff zucchini if you have a favorite way of doing this.  In size they are about the diameter of a tennis ball, 3 inches or so wide, and I easily ate two of these for dinner.

These are also great pickled. If you happen to have an over abundance of summer squash growing in your garden, try these easy pickled summer squash. These attractive jars of pickled squash make a great hostess gift.

Trim the bottoms to make them level and help them stand strait up, removing as little a possible.

Trim the tops off. You could save these and place them over the stuffing like a hat.

Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides, reserving them for the filling.

Chop up the insides and set aside.

Place zapallitos in an oiled baking pan, season with salt pepper and brush the outsides with olive oil.

I love these served over fluffy quinoa and this quinoa recipe is fast and easy. 
Remember to wash the quinoa first to remove some of the bitterness. 

If you are new to quinoa, here is another favorite quinoa recipe you may be interested in trying. It's one of my favorites.

The filling is made with ground lamb, dried apricots, pine nuts and cinnamon, cumin and coriander. 
If you are vegetarian, try substituting either ground seitan (you can chop it up in your food processor) or mushrooms, or even better, both! 

Italian sausage would also work great.

Fresh mint and parsley give it a lovely brightness.

Fill the zapallitos and place in a 400 F hot oven to bake. Cover with foil for the first 20 minutes. Remove foil and let brown up.

Serve over the quinoa, with a minted yogurt sauce.

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Stuffed Zapallito Squash with Moroccan Lamb and Quinoa
Stuffed Zapallito Squash (or Pilar squash) with Moroccan Spiced Lamb, dried apricots, pine nuts and mint. Served with Quinoa and minted Yogurt Sauce

Stuffed Squash:
  • 8 Zapalitto Squash ( about 3.5 inches in diameter) 
  • 1 T oil 
  • 1 onion -diced 
  • 6 cloves garlic- big chopped 
  • 1 lb lamb (or substitute ground seitan or mushrooms, or both!) 
  • 1 large tomato- small diced 
  • 1/2 C chopped dried apricots 
  • 1/2 C pine nuts toasted 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp coriander 
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • Cracked pepper 
  • splash balsamic vinegar 
  • 3/4 C chopped parsley and mint (divided)
  • 1/2 C Parmesan (optional)
 Quick Spiced Fluffed Quinoa:
  •  1 1/2 C Quinoa- rinsed really really well (to take the bitterness away)
  • 3 Cups chicken/veggie stock 
  • 1 small can rinsed garbanzo beans, cannellini beans or white beans 
  • 1 T Granulated garlic ( or toss in two minced garlic cloves) 
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp coriander 
  • 1/2 tsp allspice 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 T olive oil 
 Minted Yogurt Sauce: 
  •  2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves 
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 7 ounces Greek-style yogurt 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • ground black pepper

Prepare squash. Cut a very small slice from the bottom of the zapallito squash so that it sits flat. Cut the top, about 1/2 inch from the stem end, leaving a 2 inch wide hole. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides to 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness, careful to leave enough thickness at the bottom. Chop the insides and reserve for the stuffing. Season the zucchini cups with salt and pepper and brush the outside with olive oil. Place in an oven proof baking dish.

Make quinoa. Place all ingredients in a medium pot- making sure to rinse quinoa well beforehand. Bring to a hard boil. Cover, turn to low and simmer 15-18 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Turn off and leave covered on stove until ready to serve. Fluff with a fork, taste for salt, and if you like- give an extra drizzle of good olive oil.

While quinoa is simmering, make the filling. In a large saute pan, saute onions in olive oil on med-high heat, stirring frequently until translucent. Add garlic, saute 2 more minutes. Add lamb (or ground seitan, or chopped mushrooms), turn heat to medium and stir occasionally until lamb is just cooked through. Add chopped zapallito squash, and sauté 3 minutes until translucent. Stir in diced tomatoes, dried apricots, salt, sugar, pepper and spices. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a small splash of balsamic vinegar, to brighten. Set aside and let cool and place in a bowl. Make Minted yogurt. Once cooled stir in 1/2 C herbs ( saving 1/4 C) and pine nuts right before stuffing.

Stuff the squash, dividing filling equally. Cover with foil and bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes, until squash is just tender. ( Check at 20 mins) Remove foil, lower heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes to brown them up a bit if needed. Plate atop a bed of fluffed quinoa and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve with minted yogurt sauce.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6


  1. This looks amazing! So glad I found your blog! :)

  2. Incredibly beautiful Sylvia. I'm not a huge zucc fan, but I am definitely giving these a shot. xo darlin! ~h