Lamb Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash or Zucchini


I love stuffed vegetables. I think it’s because of the whole meal-in-one-package appeal. Or maybe it’s like a surprise is hiding inside an already delicious vegetable. Or maybe the real truth is that the flavors meld and do wonderful things in the oven, and the results are greater than the sum of their parts. Whatever the reason, I felt that it was worth turning the oven on in the middle of July so I could enjoy the lovely mix of fresh flavors in this dish.

We’ve been eating a lot of lamb again lately. In May, we purchased another whole, organically raised, grass-fed lamb from Good Earth Organic Farm. This has to be the best lamb my husband and I have ever tasted. I’m sorry to say that I have not really shared a lot of recipes that I’ve made with it. That’s not on purpose, I promise. There are just days when the camera doesn’t seem to make its way to a plate of food before the food is eaten at our house – especially when lamb chops are involved. And many times, I neglect to write down the recipe as I go. Before the chops are gone, though, I will promise you that I will share my no-fail way to make perfect lamb chops. It’s simple, easy, and delicious.

Anyway, today, we’re not talking about lamb chops. We’re talking about the ground lamb I used for the eight-ball zucchini found at the farmer’s market. I love to embrace the flavor of lamb by adding fresh, bright flavors – herbs work well here. I am growing lemon thyme in my garden this year, and it pairs beautifully with lamb. If you don’t have lemon thyme, regular thyme or rosemary also work well. I went with my instinct on the rest of the seasonings, feeling that a bit of Mediterranean flair would work in my favor. I incorporated za’atar (a spice blend of sumac and sesame seeds) and a touch of cinnamon. The result was bursting with flavor, and without the addition of cheese (a popular ingredient in many stuffed vegetables), it was light – perfect for a summer meal.

If you can’t find eight-ball squash, don’t despair. Making boats out of zucchini would work well, or you could also use bell peppers, or even tomatoes. When winter squashes start appearing in the coming months, I can imagine this stuffing in an acorn squash would also be amazing (that’s when fresh rosemary would really play well). Yum. I’m hungry again just talking about this!

Lamb-Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash

4 eight-ball squash

1 T olive oil

¼ c red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

½ t lemon thyme leaves

6 oz ground lamb

1/2 t za’atar

½ t ground cumin

1/8 t cinnamon

Pinch crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c cooked brown rice

½ t lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

1 T parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tops off of the squash and with a paring knife and/or a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the squash, leaving about ½ inch of flesh in tact. Chop the insides and set aside. Place the squash on a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Remove and place squash in a baking pan (I used an 8X8 inch glass baking dish). Season the insides with salt. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato and chopped squash “insides” and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes start to break down. Remove and set aside. Season the ground lamb with za’atar, ground cumin, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Wipe the skillet clean and add ground lamb. (if your lamb is really lean, you might need to add additional oil to the pan first.) Saute until meat is no longer pink. Add the sautéed vegetables and the rice to the pan and stir. Add lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Turn off the heat and stir in parsley.

Spoon the filling into the squash. Top with the squash “lids”, if desired. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Serves 4.


Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Lamb, Main Dishes, Rice, Vegetables

13 responses to “Lamb Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash or Zucchini

  1. Lamb….Soo good! You got me salivating with your spice flavor marriage going on here. That za’tar spice sounds amazing. I just bought sumac for the first time and LOVE it’s citrus taste. I can see myself playing around with your recipe. Zucchini boats, I forsee floating away with your good cooking.

  2. Now that’s the way to buy lamb. Wonderful 1 “pot” dish 🙂

  3. I’m with you on the stuffed veggies – and the 8 ball zucchini is fabulous. I love them – they’re just fun. I had to giggle at your ‘not sharing recipes.’ It’s a lot of work to put together a post, and sometimes I just want to eat and forget that I’m a food blogger, too. I’m with you on this one.

    In fact, sometimes my husband jokingly says, “Honey, can’t we just keep this one to ourselves?”

  4. You had my attention with Lamb!

  5. Lamb is my favorite meat, and you’ve done such a beautiful job with this recipe. All the good stuff is in there and so healthy too! Well done! Stumbled.

  6. Ohhh you know how much I love lamb (on and off the hoof) and this is a fantastic recipe! Bookmarking this one big-time!
    Thanks, Alta!!

  7. Wow, beautiful dish…never had lamb this way…it is a must try one 🙂

  8. i love little stuffed veggies, too – with their little hats and an endless variety of surprises inside, mmmm! your sutffed squash looks delicious!

  9. Fantastic recipe! I am heading over to check out this lamb website.

  10. I love stuffed veggies…….I’ve never tried this round ball squash so I need to give it a go. Thanks

  11. Alta,
    Love it! I was sitting here nodding my head at the forgetting to write stuff down and not taking a picture!
    I think my iteration if this recipe will involve zucchini boats as you suggested-we’re up to our eyeballs in them down here!

  12. I’ve never prepared lamb but I have been eyeing the lamb booth at the farmers market. thought about a leg but maybe I should start with the chops. I love stuffed squash and bet its terrific with the lamb.

  13. Pingback: Recipe for Gluten Free, Sugar Free Fresh Black Eyed Peas and Tomaotes - Slow Cooked

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