Pumpkin gets Mexican accent in fall pork dinner

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For a new seasonal twist, try Mexican Pumpkin. Halloween is around the corner and pumpkins, gourds and squash fill the stores. The unusual flavors of cumin-scented pork and pumpkin combine to make a Halloween treat.

We usually think of pumpkins for pies or a sweet vegetable mixed with brown sugar. In Mexico these squash are used as a savory vegetable. It’s best to cook with a squash such as acorn or butternut variety or one known as sugar pumpkin. This dish is made in the microwave oven to cut preparation and cooking time. To make prep time easier, look for fresh or frozen acorn or butternut squash already peeled and cubed.

This meal contains 495 calories per serving with 28 percent of calories from fat.

Fred Tasker’s wine tip: The spicy, savory pork dish would go nicely with an aromatic white viognier (VEE-own-YAY).

CUMIN PORK

Makes 2 servings.

Olive oil spray

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¾ pound boneless pork loin chops

½ cup frozen, diced onion

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat a nonstick skillet just large enough to hold the pork in one layer over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil spray. Rub the ground cumin onto both sides of the pork chops and add to the skillet along with the onion. Brown the pork for 2 minutes, turn and brown second side 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid and continue to sauté pork 5 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 145 degrees. Remove meat from pan and put onto a plate.

Add the vinegar to the pan and reduce the liquid by about half while scraping up the brown bits in the bottom of the skillet. Add the broth and honey and reduce the liquid again by half, stirring to combine the ingredients. Slice the pork, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve the sauce and onions on top.

Per serving: 307 calories (24 percent from fat), 802 g fat (2.1 g saturated, 3.6 g monounsaturated), 120 mg cholesterol, 39.1 g protein, 16.5 g carbohydrates, 0.9 g fiber, 254 mg sodium.

MEXICAN PUMPKIN

Makes 2 servings.

1 acorn or butternut squash or sugar pumpkin (for 2 cups ½-inch cubes)

1 cup defrosted corn kernels

1 tablespoon seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper

1 cup tomato cubes

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash squash and poke several holes in the skin. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave on high 5 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.

Place the squash, cut side down, on a work surface and slice off the skin. Cut the flesh into ½-inch cubes. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and add the corn kernels, jalapeño pepper and tomato cubes. Cover and microwave on high 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

Per serving: 188 calories (29 percent from fat), 6.0 g fat (1.0 g saturated, 3.7 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 4.7 g protein, 34.6 g carbohydrates, 5.9 g fiber, 21 mg sodium.