Squash Stuffed with Moroccan Couscous

This week, despite the rain during the day and the frost on my lawn this morning, I am really excited about spring. The plum tree in my backyard blossomed this week; beautiful pink flowers dotting my otherwise brown and green backyard. The farmers' market last weekend had piles of delectable, skinny stalks of asparagus. And I was SO ready to get rid of the winter squash still lingering in my kitchen. I am now ready to cook with it, evacuating any evidence of winter from my kitchen so I can be ready for the peas and heirloom tomatoes to come.

About a month ago, I picked up a lovely buttercup squash at the farmers' market. A deep sultry green color, it has sat happily on my counter waiting to be a part of something delicious. I sliced it in half, cleaned it out, and roasted it until it was soft and fork tender. I brushed it with a brown sugar butter sauce and stuffed it with a delicious blend of whole-wheat couscous, vegetables, spices, and chickpeas. A handful of golden raisins thrown in before cooking the couscous plumped up beautifully. The dish was a perfect way to wrap up the winter still left in my kitchen. Warm, delicious, inviting, and cozy. (And I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture of it beforehand!)


Squash Stuffed with Moroccan Couscous
Serves 2 (but makes enough couscous filling for four)*

1 buttercup or acorn squash, cut in half and cleaned out (cut off the ends so it rests flat)
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste
1 c garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 c golden raisins
14 oz (1 can) vegetable broth (chicken broth can be substituted)
1 c whole wheat couscous

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place squash cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with a non-stick mat. Roast for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Meanwhile, dissolve brown sugar in butter. When squash is done, remove from oven, turn over, and brush inside and top with brown sugar mixture. Keep warm while making filling.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, and celery; saute for 5 minutes. Add spices and stir to coat. Add garbanzo beans and raisins. Add broth and heat through. Stir in couscous, cover, and turn off the heat. Let sit for 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed; fluff with fork. Spoon filling into warm squash half. Sprinkle with toasted slivered almonds, if desired.

*If you want to make four servings, use two squash and double the amount of butter and brown sugar.