It’s officially soup and stew season, my friends, and I don’t know about you, but I LOVE it! The cold temps are blowing in (not that I love that, btw), it’s acceptable to get the fireplace rolling, and my kitchen is filling up with aromas and flavors of fall! How about yours? This Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin-Lamb Stew screams Fall, and is sure to satisfy, with bites of super tender lamb (or pork, if you prefer), fresh pumpkin and loads of other veggies, a unique blend of spices, and a sweet surprise from an ingredient I love adding to lamb and pork dishes.
While it may seem like the days of eating seasonal fresh fruits and veggies are dwindling to a close, I have no such thoughts! Sure, summer is more abundant with garden-grown produce, but Fall gives us many fresh food gifts, such as pumpkins, kale, apples, pears, squash, and even the potential for lingering tomatoes hanging on the plants (I just recently got a nice bunch from my parents!).
If you’re like me, you’ve got your good old stand-by soup and stew recipes, ones you could practically make in your sleep, and ones that get gobbled up by anyone around. I’ve got those too, but I also love trying new flavors and combinations, and one such spice combination I am loving lately is Moroccan inspired. Don’t let the name make you feel intimidated. Many of these spices are probably already in your spice cabinet, it’s just that you may never have put them all together before. Familiar spices such as paprika, ginger, and allspice (yes, ginger and allspice are not only for dessert recipes!) combine with less familiar spices of coriander, turmeric, and cumin (although I can almost guarantee you’ve all had cumin because it’s an important spice in almost all taco or chili seasoning blends.
Fresh Pumpkin Varieties for Cooking
If you’ve never cooked or baked with fresh pumpkin (and I’m not talking about Libby’s canned pumpkin!), let me give you some tips. First of all, it’s important to use the right variety of pumpkin ““ you can’t just grab a Jack-o-lantern type pumpkin and use it for cooking. The following pumpkin varieties will taste great and be easy to work with:
- Pie Pumpkin or Sugar Pumpkin (this is more of a general term, but is quite often how larger supermarkets will label pumpkins for cooking)
- Baby Pam
- Fairy Tale
- Winter Luxury
- Autumn Gold
- Baby Bear
- Cheese Pumpkin
- New England Pie Pumpkin
There are other varieties for cooking that may be regional or bred with a unique name. Just ask your purveyor to make sure you are getting a variety for cooking rather than for carving!
Cooking with Fresh Pumpkins
Cooking with a fresh pumpkin is very similar to cooking with a winter squash. The most basic methods for cooking a pumpkin include:
- Cutting the pumpkin in half, scooping out the seeds (which you can save and roast for a snack!), and roasting it, cut sides down, until the flesh is tender (then you simply scoop out the tender flesh with a spoon
- Peeling the pumpkin (which is easiest to do when the pumpkin is whole), cutting in half, scooping out the seeds, cutting the flesh into cubes, and either roasting the cubes or dropping the cubes into a soup or stew
From these basic methods, the sky is the limit for what you can do with the pumpkin. Make it into a pureed pumpkin soup, puree the roasted flesh and use to make a classic pumpkin pie, mash the pumpkin with some yummy stir-ins (chives, a touch of honey, salt, and a little chili powder is delicious!), or add the cubes of pumpkin to your favorite soup or stew.
I get farm fresh lamb from friends in my hometown (one major benefit of having grown up in a farming community ““ I almost NEVER have to buy meat from a supermarket since I know so many people who raise animals). I just have to have a large freezer to store it all! Anyway, lamb is tremendous, and if you’ve never tried it, I suggest you do. The key is to get good quality lamb and cook it correctly (as is the case with all meat, in my opinion!). Using lamb in a recipe like this Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin-Lamb Stew is a good place to start if you’ve never had it because the recipe doesn’t require a large amount, and it’s not as much the star of the show compared with all the veggies in the stew. So, you’ll get a taste for the lamb and can decide from there if you want to branch out and try other recipes.
The great thing is, if you can’t get good lamb, or can’t wrap your mind around trying it, this recipe works equally as well with pork (I tried the recipe with both options on separate occasions and we loved both). Also, if you would prefer not to use the fresh pumpkins, you can sub in butternut squash, and I’ve given directions for that too – the squash will take longer to cook than the pumpkin.
Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin-Lamb Stew How-To Photos:
Cook celery and onion in a little oil; add garlic. Remove all from the pot.
Season cubed lamb or pork with a Moroccan inspired seasoning mix (you probably have almost all of the spices in your kitchen already!)
Brown the seasoned meat in the same pot used for the celery and onion.
Add back the celery and onion.
Add chicken broth (I use my Homemade Chicken Bone Broth). Simmer for 35 minutes.
Add parsnips and cook a bit longer.
Cube the fresh pumpkin.
Add pumpkin, sweet pepper strips, and chopped dried apricots (for the sweet surprise!) to the stew. Cook until pumpkin is tender (it doesn’t take long!)
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder or pork shoulder*
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 medium parsnips
- 1 ½ to 1 ¾-pound pie pumpkin or other cooking pumpkin**
- 1 red sweet pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
- In a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, cook celery and onion in 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (turn heat down if onion starts to get too brown). Stir in garlic; cook 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
- Meanwhile, trim meat from the bone; discard bone. Trim off fat and discard. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes; place cubes in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine paprika, salt, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, allspice, and black pepper. Sprinkle over meat; toss with a fork to coat meat with the spices.
- Add remaining coconut oil to the same pot. Add seasoned meat. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is well browned, stirring once or twice to brown meat evenly. Drain off fat as needed. Add celery mixture back to pot with meat. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.
- Peel parsnips; cut thin ends crosswise into thin slices. Cut thick ends lengthwise in half; then cut crosswise into thin slices. Peel the pumpkin; cut pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds and strings; save seeds for another use if desired. Cut pumpkin flesh into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Add parsnips to stew. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes more. Add pumpkin cubes, sweet pepper strips, and apricots. Cook, covered, for 5 to 8 minutes more or until pumpkin is just tender***.
- Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.
- * You can you use boneless lamb shoulder or pork shoulder if you can find that – it will be easier to cut up! If using boneless lamb or pork shoulder, use 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds to start (after trimming the fat and cutting into cubes, you will have about 1 pound).
- **You can substitute a butternut squash for the pumpkin. Use 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds squash (weighed before peeling and removing the seeds). Add the squash with the parsnips instead of with the sweet pepper because it will take longer to cook.
- *** The pumpkin will cook surprisingly quickly so watch it closely so it doesn’t get too soft (unless you want it that way!).
- 6 servings (about 1 1/3 cups per serving)
- 239 cals, 18 g pro, 20 g carb, 10 g fat, 47 mg cholesterol, 6 g sat fat, 4 g fiber, 754 mg sodium