One fruit I have recently started to think a lot more about is the pomegranate. As far as winter fruits go, the pomegranate has my vote for being the most fun. It's delicious in a uniquely refreshing way, and pomegranate arils are more addictive than potato chips ~ not to mention better for you. Oranges are great, clementines and grapefruit too, but pomegranates bring something special to the table, whether they're eaten alone or used in a recipe.
The pomegranate, which derives its name from the Latin words for "seeded apple," is native to the region of Iran and the Himilayas in northern India. In 1769, Spaniards introduced the fruit to California natives.
Pomegranates start to crop up just as the displays of canned pumpkin and make-your-own fudge kits begin to garner end-cap attention at the grocery store. From October to January, pomegranates are available in U.S. stores. Making them the perfect fruit to highlight in holiday recipes.
This recipe is one I developed for the Blogger Recipe Contest sponsored by Pom. It uses both fresh pomegranate arils and fresh pomegranate juice, and the flavor is an amazing combination of sweet and tart ~ just like a pomegranate ~ tempered by the richness of judiciously applied butter.
You can serve this as a side dish or a light lunch, alongside a salad. This recipe is vegetarian, but please see my suggestions in the Recipe Notes section for modifying the recipe to feature meat or to be vegan.
Couscous-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pomegranate-Honey Reduction
- 2 medium acorn squash
- 1/4 cup water
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
For Pomegranate Reduction:
- 1/2 cup freshly pressed pomegranate juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic or 1 shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup couscous
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup freshly pressed pomegranate juice
- 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate arils
- 1/3 cup toasted pecan halves, broken
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and dry acorn squash and carefully cut in half lengthwise. Use a soup spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp, discard.
- Line a baking pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place acorn squash cut-side down in baking pan. Pour about 1/4 cup water into pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil carefully ~ escaping steam will be extremely hot. Turn each squash half over and brush the interior with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and return to oven for an additional 30 minutes or until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare Pomegranate-Honey Reduction sauce. Combine juice, honey, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and reduce heat. Let simmer actively for about 20 minutes until reduced to about half the original volume and the consistency is syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside and keep warm.
- While acorn squash is baking and sauce is reducing, prepare couscous. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic or shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add curry powder and salt and saute for another minute. Add couscous to pan and stir to coat with butter mixture. Let toast in pan, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes, until fragrant. Pour water and pomegranate juice in all at once, stir, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
- Uncover couscous, fluff with fork, and stir in pomegranate arils and pecans.
- Remove acorn squash from oven and test for doneness. Please half a squash on each of four plates.
- Drizzle about a teaspoon of sauce into the cavity of each squash. Spoon in a generous portion of couscous to fill cavity and mound overtop. Drizzle with additional sauce and garnish with pomegranate arils and toasted pecans, if desired. Serve hot.
Makes 4 generous servings with couscous left over.
- You can turn this into a vegan dish by substituting margarine for butter where the latter is called for.
- If you'd like to serve this as a main dish with meat in it, consider slicing and panfrying some chicken sausage and adding it to the couscous mixture. Lamb or pork would also match well.