Market Watch: Kabocha Squash
This lesser-known variety of winter squash is having its heyday at local farmers markets right now. Don’t be intimidated by its dark and rough exterior; inside is a gourd full of goodness.
A Japanese variety of squash, kabocha resembles a squatty, dark green pumpkin. Its outer skin is rough and bumpy, but inside hides a vibrant pale-orange flesh that tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. Kabocha also delivers in the nutrition department, offering plentiful amounts of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and fiber.
Much like pumpkin and butternut squash, kabocha can go in a wide variety of culinary directions. As with many winter squashes, the biggest challenge is dealing with the tough outer skin. Peeling it won’t be easy, so it’s better to cut it open, remove the seeds, and peel away the skin after boiling or roasting — you can also make it in a slow cooker.
Once mashed or pureed, the squash yields an incredibly light, silky and flavorful flesh that permeates your senses with the smell and taste of fall. Use it as a main ingredient for soups and sauces. You can enhance its flavor with earthy accoutrements like sage, cardamom and cinnamon or take things in a completely different direction with citrus and coconut milk. Kabocha’s natural sweetness and creamy texture also work nicely in muffins, breads, pie, panna cotta and ice cream.
See our tips for breaking down a kabocha squash.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. , which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.