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How to Roast Kabocha Squash (+ a Recipe)

Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is a hearty winter squash variety recognized by its squat round shape and dark green skin. Its deep orange-colored flesh is mild and slightly sweet with a firm, starchy texture that’s a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato. It can be incorporated into recipes like other common winter squash, including butternut and acorn squash, and is delicious roasted, sauteed, and pureed into soups.



Kabocha Squash Nutrition

As you might expect from this orange-hued squash, it’s full of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that converts to essential vitamin A in the body. This powerful phytochemical is also an antioxidant that may reduce the risk for certain cancers and symptoms associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Kabocha squash is a good source of vitamin C and contains B vitamins and the minerals potassium and magnesium. The fiber in kabocha squash is considered a prebiotic fiber, meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria living in our gut to support overall health. Enjoying kabocha, along with other winter squash, will help you meet the recommendation to consume 4 to 6 cups of orange and red vegetables every week.



How to Roast Kabocha Squash

One of the simplest and most delicious ways to enjoy kabocha squash is by roasting it. The process for roasting kabocha squash is similar to that of roasting butternut or acorn squash. Because of its very hard exterior, the most challenging part of cooking kabocha is cutting it. Microwaving the squash whole for a couple minutes can make cutting into it easier and safer.


Step 1: Wash the kabocha squash well. Use a scrub brush to remove any dirt.


Step 2 (optional): Microwave the squash whole for about 2 minutes. This will make it easier to cut.


Step 3: Cut off the stem end.


Step 4: Cut the squash in half crosswise.



Step 5: Scoop out the seeds. These can be rinsed, seasoned, and roasted similar to pumpkin seeds.


Step 6: Drizzle with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Other seasonings that work well with kabocha squash include curry powder, chili powder, cumin, Chinese five spice, sage, nutmeg, and cinnamon.


Step 7: Place the squash skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Note: You can also peel the squash and cut it into cubes before roasting. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until flesh is tender and pierces easily with a fork. Serve roasted kabocha squash as a simple side dish, blend it into soups, or even stir it into your morning oatmeal.



Whipped Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is delicious mashed and whipped, with a texture and flavor profile similar to mashed sweet potatoes. Here, basic roasted kabocha squash is whipped with coconut milk and seasonings for the most irresistible side dish.



Ingredients:

1 small to medium Perfectly Imperfect kabocha squash, roasted as instructed above

¼ cup full fat or light coconut milk, regular milk, or other non-dairy alternative

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or ghee

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground nutmeg

Sea salt


Instructions:

Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of the roasted squash and transfer it to a food processor. Add the milk, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Blend until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add more milk as needed to achieve a creamy texture. Season to taste with salt until the flavors pop.


Watch How to Roast Kabocha Squash



By Carolyn Hodges, MS, RDN

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