Metro-East Living

Dive into 4 autumn dishes, from spaghetti squash to pork sliders

Pumpkin Hummus starts with chickpeas and pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin Hummus starts with chickpeas and pumpkin puree.

The tide has turned, fall is here and with it comes thoughts of making recipes that focus on the season’s harvest, from squash to apples to pumpkin and more.

If you’ve never made spaghetti squash, it is so simple and the result is a delicious substitute for wheat-based pasta. Anyone who avoids gluten will applaud a recipe like Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash. And, if you’re vegetarian, or just want a side dish of this squash, it works just fine without the chicken.

Hummus is easy to make at home. And the Pumpkin Hummus recipe here is just right for an October party, served with warmed slices of pita bread.

The popularity of hummus has risen dramatically in the U.S. as a healthy spread. said in an April online article that U.S. grocery sales of hummus now top $725 million annually, according to numbers cited by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. Just 20 years ago, hummus sales barely topped $5 million.

It's estimated that 25 percent of American homes now stock hummus in the fridge. To keep pace with the boom, American farmers have quadrupled their production of chickpeas in recent years, churning out more than 100 million pounds last year, up from about 25 million pounds in 2009, reported.

And what would autumn be without another barbecue recipe that slow-cooks pork until it falls apart? Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders are so yummy you won’t mind the little bit of extra work that goes into making the barbecue sauce. (I would make extra and keep it in the fridge for future use.)

Finally, two plentiful seasonal produce are put to excellent use in Zucchini Apple Crumb Bread. Serve it any time of day.

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise

3 green onions, chopped

2 chicken breasts, cubed

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shredded cabbage

3/4 cup hot pepper sauce, such as Frank’s (more or less to taste)

Blue cheese crumbles (more or less to taste)

1. Heat a large saucepan with olive oil. Saute garlic and green onions until golden. Add chicken and cook for about 5-7 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

2. While chicken is cooking, cook spaghetti squash in the microwave in a covered dish for about 6 minutes. Once the squash is cool, scoop out the seeds. Using a fork, gently scrape the rest of the spaghetti squash out. Fluff with the fork to get the strands loose.

3. Add spaghetti squash to the saucepan with chicken and toss together with carrots and chopped cabbage.

4. Stir in desired amount of hot pepper sauce. Garnish with blue cheese and green onions. Serves 4.

Pumpkin Hummus

15-ounce can chickpeas

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup juice from 1 lemon

1 clove garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Puree everything in a food processor or blender and enjoy.

Serves 4, each with 268 calories, 11 grams fat, 0 cholesterol, 267 mg sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar, 12 grams protein.

Option: Add 1/4 cup ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for even more pumpkin flavor.

Balsamic Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast

1 cup chopped onion (1 large)

3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper (1 medium)

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/2 cup chicken broth


1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 cocktail-size hamburger buns or small round dinner rolls, split and toasted

Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker.

In the cooker, combine onion and sweet pepper. Add meat; sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Pour broth over meat.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 9 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Meanwhile, for barbecue sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, black pepper, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Transfer meat to a cutting board. Using two forks, pull meat apart into shreds, discarding fat.

Strain vegetable mixture, discarding liquid.

Return shredded meat and strained vegetables to cooker. Stir in barbecue sauce. If using high-heat setting, turn to low-heat setting. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

To serve, spoon meat mixture onto bun bottoms. Top with coleslaw and chopped pickles, if desired. Add bun tops.

Makes 20 sliders, each with 320 calories, 14 grams fat, 44 mg cholesterol, 487 mg sodium, 34 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 15 grams sugar, 13 grams protein.

Zucchini Apple Crumb Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup chopped apples

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons cubed butter, cold

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8.5-by-4.5-inch bread pan. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook chopped apples with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until apples have begun to soften. Pull off heat and allow to cool.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4. In another bowl, mix oil, milk, eggs and vanilla extract together.

5. Making a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

6. Add in grated zucchini (zucchini is a very wet vegetable, so try to pat off as much excess water as possible with a paper towel before adding to the batter) and cooled apples. Fold into the batter.

7. Pour batter into prepared bread pan.

8. Crumb topping: Combine cinnamon, flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, and mix until the topping looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle coating evenly over the batter.

9. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. If needed, cover the bread with a piece of foil at about the 40-minute mark to keep the top from browning too much. Allow bread to cool before removing from pan.