Pomegranates and hard squash are both flooding into the farmers markets right now. I like to think of them as the utility players of autumn, alternately providing our dining tables with vibrant colors and shapes while lending their flavor and texture to fall feasts.
Last weekend, I bought three kinds of squash at Mike’s Truck Garden on River Road. As a nostalgic nod to New England, I chose the sturdy Blue Hubbard squash that my grandmother always baked these into her Thanksgiving pies. For Asian curries and soup, I picked up a jade -green kabocha squash. And I bought a white pumpkin, simply because it looks ghostly for Halloween.
But if you had to buy just one squash, it would have to be the fat, bat-shaped butternut, with its sweet, orange flesh. You can use it in a panzanella bread salad in place of tomatoes, serve it on top of cheese raviolis with sage and walnuts or glaze it with pomegranate juice and bake it with apples.
This recipe, from POM Wonderful Pomegranate and POM POMS fresh pomegranate, would make a tasty side dish for a pork tenderloin. It takes just 30 minutes of prep.
Glazed Baked Squash and Apples
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Juice from 2 large pomegranates, or ¾ cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
2 pounds butternut squash
4 apples (McIntosh, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Gala or Braeburn)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup pomegranate arils, for garnish
To prepare garnish, score 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Sieve and put the arils in a separate bowl . Reserve 1 cup of arils from the fruit and set aside. (refrigerate the remaining arils for another use).
Prepare fresh juice: For 1 cup of juice, cut 2-3 large pomegranates in half and juice them with a citrus reamer or juicer. Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve. Set juice aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel butternut squash and cut into 2-inch chunks. Arrange in a buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Cut apples into quarters or slices (peeled or skin one); add to baking dish. Mix together light brown sugar and pomegranate juice. Spread on squash and apples. Drizzle with butter. Bake 20 to 30 minutes until soft. Garnish with arils.