When acorn squash halves are roasted cut side up, they become edible vessels that collect a precious tablespoon or two of syrupy juices. In this recipe, that liquid is cinnamon-spiked and put to delicious use: whisked with honey, olive oil and pomegranate molasses to make a dressing that's ultimately drizzled over the vegetable.
Pomegranate molasses brings a distinctive layer of flavor to the plate. It has the earthy depth to stand up to the squash, as well as a lip-smacking tartness that plays against the honey. You can find pomegranate molasses in many grocery stores and Mediterranean markets, but if you prefer, you can make your own by cooking down pure pomegranate juice in a saucepan with a little honey until it has reduced to syrupy consistency. (A quarter-cup of the juice and 1 teaspoon of honey will make enough syrup for this dish.)
Here, dressed wedges of the roasted squash are then showered with tastes, colors and textures that turn the simple side into a dish worthy of a celebration. Nutty green pumpkin seeds are tossed and toasted with fragrant thyme leaves; bright, juicy pomegranate seeds, called arils, relate to the pomegranate in the dressing.
This preparation is a healthful way to enjoy festive fall flavors and pump up your holiday-table wow factor with ease.
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Roasted Acorn Squash With Pumpkin Seeds and Pomegranate
MAKE AHEAD: The roasted squash and dressing can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days in advance; reheat the squash, covered, in a 300-degree oven until warmed through, then cut into slices and apply the dressing and garnishes.
3 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raw or roasted
1- 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (arils; from 1/2 pomegranate)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then with the honey. Place the squash halves cut side up in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the salt and cinnamon; roast for 1 hour, until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the pumpkin seeds and thyme; cook, stirring, until the seeds are aromatic and toasted. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Once the squash is done and cool enough to touch, transfer the liquid that accumulated in each half to a medium bowl.
Cut each roasted squash half into 4 slices, and arrange them on a platter.
Whisk the pomegranate molasses into the reserved juices in the bowl to form a dressing; drizzle it over the squash wedges. Sprinkle with the herbed pumpkin seeds and the pomegranate seeds.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition 5/8 per serving: 140 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar
-- Krieger's most recent cookbook is "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.