I am quite fond of the brined pork chops I usually make, but these chops, accented with earthy pumpkin seeds and vibrant cilantro, are a whole different treat. They would be bright and tasty in the warmer months paired with a salad, but they are perfect for cooler weather with roasted squash. It also makes a very pretty and colorful plate.
To make it, start by preheating your oven to 425º F. Cut 1/2 of a smaller winter squash into 1 inch pieces. I used festival squash, but acorn or delicata squash would also be great. Toss the squash with olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. Spread it evenly on a baking sheet, and roast it for 35-40 minutes until it is tender. While the squash cooks, spread 1/2 cup of shelled pumpkin seeds on a separate baking sheet, and toast them in the oven for about 3-4 minutes until you hear them starting to pop.
Make your pumpkin seed and cilantro drizzle while the squash roasts as well. For two servings, add 1 garlic clove, 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the toasted pumpkin seeds, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. Run the food processor until the ingredients form a vinaigrette. Alternatively, you could chop all of the ingredients finely with a knife and whisk in the olive oil. Season the drizzle with salt and pepper.
Just before the squash finishes cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides, and then sear them on one side for about 5 minutes until they are brown. Flip the pork chops, and cook them on the other side until they reach an internal temperature of 145º F. Remove the pork chops to a side plate, and let them rest for 3 minutes. Plate the pork chops with the roasted squash segments, and drizzle over the pumpkin seed and cilantro vinaigrette. Sprinkle some more pumpkin seeds and cilantro over the top, and enjoy the bright flavors.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.
- Pork chops- 1 per person
- Acorn or festival squash- 1/2 per person
- Pumpkin seeds- 1/2 cup
- Garlic- 1 clove
- Cilantro- 4 tablespoons, chopped
- Lime- 1
- Olive oil, salt, and pepper