They are short, squat and dull on the outside. But don’t let the humble kabocha squash fool you. On the inside, they are full of beta carotene, iron and vitamins, and they pack a sweet, nutty flavor that some say is like a sweet potato crossed with a pumpkin.
In short, you should get your hands on some kabocha this fall.
Sometimes called the ‘Japanese squash,’ kabocha doesn’t actually originate in Japan. Squash and other members of the gourd family have their roots in the Americas, but were introduced to the rest of the world by the Portuguese. However, it is believed that traders from Portugal brought the kabocha to Japan in the 16th century.
Today, the squash is gaining popularity for its unique flavor and versatility – after all, acorn and butternut squash have had lots of time in the spotlight. Although some are bright orange on the outside, kabocha are usually dark green with some faint stripes. Regardless of color, the rind should be dull and firm and the squash should feel heavy for its size.
Looking for some recipe inspiration? Here are a few delicious ideas:
- The Kitchn’s Kabocha Squash Soup with Pomegranate and Pepitas
- Simmered Kabocha Squash with Chicken from The Japan Times
- Serious Eats’ Roasted Squash “Carbonara”
- Lasagne with Roasted Kabocha Squash and Bechamel from the New York Times
- Kabocha Squash Fritters with Fried Sage from Food & Wine