Although afternoon highs are still in the 90's around here, it is fall. How do I know that? Well, for one, the evenings and mornings are cool and brisk and absolutely perfect for patio dinners and long walks. Other signs of fall around here; spectacular sunsets and fall food favorites! Honeycrisp apples ( I could do a whole post on these), pumpkin, cranberries, winter squash, and pomegranates. Oh, and we are so backwards here in Arizona, that not only do we not do the time change thing, our Farmer's Market's are just ramping up for the season now.
So, with all of the spectacular fall bounty, I have been craving a comfy fall flavored meal. One of my favorites is stuffed acorn squash. This is a dish that is versatile enough to be a hearty side dish, or add some protein and make it the star of the show. I chose to add some pork to this and make it a main dish with a few other additions for added "fall flavor."
I started with an acorn squash, halved, and seeds scooped out. On our way out to walk Chase and catch the sunset, I put the halves on a baking sheet and stuck it in a 400 degree oven. Perfect, because during the walk, I was able to come up with the combination of ingredients I would use to "stuff it." Approximately 25 minutes later we returned and the house smelled of wonderful roasted squash. I made a quick filling of pork, apples, shitake mushrooms, and seasonings. After filling each squash half I topped with a generous sprinkling of blue cheese and pomegranate seeds.
Ready to go back in the oven:
The great thing about a meal like this is the ingredient combinations are endless. I typically would stuff with a mixture of wild rice and and dried cranberries. Use whatever fall favorites you have.
Pork and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash (serves 2)
1 acorn squash
1 pork loin chop, cut into pieces
1 small chopped apple (best if it's a nice sweet fall apple like Honeycrisp, McIntosh, etc.)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced, shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
blue cheese to sprinkle on top
1. Cut acorn squash in half and bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes
2. On the stove top, saute onion, apple, mushroom and pork, until cooked through
3. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and maple syrup.
4. Stuff the acorn squash with the pork filling and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and blue cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
I drizzled a little leftover pomegranate molasses/merlot reduction sauce on top - optional and only because there was some in the refrigerator. (Also, is it just me or do my pomegranate seeds look a little anemic??)