Everyone obsesses over pumpkin-spiced everything during autumn, but I beg you to spare a thought for the humble kabocha squash.
As pumpkin’s lesser-known cousin, kabocha is nonetheless a staple in my kitchen throughout the colder months. I may not carve spooky faces into them on Halloween or scatter them throughout my apartment (although, that would be pretty cool!) but I simply can’t imagine this season without an abundance of kabocha squash.
I’m on a mission to covert even the most diehard pumpkin lover into a kabocha fanatic. Which side will you choose?
What is kabocha squash?
Put simply, kabocha is a variety of winter squash native to Japan. It’s also the most delicious vegetable known to man!
I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest of things. Green and knobbly with a slightly squished appearance, kabocha definitely tastes better than it looks.
But honestly, I think it looks pretty cute.
What are the benefits of kabocha squash?
Growing up, were you told that carrots would help you see in the dark?
While I’ve since learned that this is a myth, it’s actually true that beta carotene can help to improve your vision. It’s found in high amounts in carrots, but guess what else is packed full of this essential vitamin? That’s right: kabocha squash.
My skin has never looked better than when I’m consuming kabocha on a regular basis. This is due to the high levels of beta carotene, which lowers inflammation and promotes healthy skin. It’s even thought to improve the look of scars, which is great for acne sufferers!
Where can I buy kabocha squash?
Finding kabocha in the UK can be a little difficult. But not impossible!
The only supermarket that seems to stock them is Waitrose, and they often sell out before I can get my hands on them. So what’s a kabocha-loving girl to do?
Luckily, they taste much better when you pick your own!
Have a look online for any fruit and vegetable farms close to your home. Don’t despair if you reside in a big city – you might be surprised at your options! I live in South London, and have discovered the most amazing pick your own farm just a short drive from my apartment.
Picking our own kabocha has quickly become one of my favourite autumn traditions, and it’s much more fun than scouring the supermarkets!
How do I cook kabocha squash?
I thought you’d never ask. There are endless ways to cook this tasty vegetable, so I’ve compiled my two favourite recipes for your reading (and cooking!) pleasure.
Here’s a tip: leave the skin on. Once cooked, it becomes so soft that it literally melts in your mouth. So good.
Another tip is to never eat it freshly picked. Kabocha tastes best when it’s left to ripen on your kitchen counter for a few weeks, to allow some of the starches to convert into sugar. I know it’s hard, but you have to be patient. It’s so, so worth it.
Read on for two delicious recipes starring the delicious and very autumnal kabocha squash! Apologies for the lack of photos, it gets dark so early here in the UK now and I just don’t have time for food photography during the day at the moment. You’ll have to just imagine the deliciousness!
Kabocha No Nimono
This is a traditional Japanese side dish, typically served with a home-cooked meal. It’s pretty unusual to find it served at a restaurant, so you won’t often get a chance to sample these little bites of deliciousness on a trip to Japan (unless you’re really lucky!)
Ready to learn how to make it?
- One medium kabocha squash, washed
- Three cups of kombu dashi stock
- One and a half tablespoons of soy sauce
- One tablespoon of mirin
- One and a half tablespoons of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Chop the kabocha into medium-sized chunks, leaving the skin on.
- Pour the kombu dashi stock into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the kabocha and pop a lid on the saucepan, leaving it to simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt. Leave to simmer for another 15 minutes before switching off the heat.
- Drain the liquid, replace the lid and leave to cool for around 10 minutes. Then serve!
I’ve mentioned my love for Capricciosa’s pumpkin pasta dish a couple of times now. I’m genuinely addicted to it, and get major cravings during autumn.
I’ve toyed with the idea of making my own version for a while now. So when I came across a jar of La Favorita Pumpkin Cream on Sous Chef, I just had to try it.
With the addition of fresh kabocha squash, this meal has definitely become one of my go-tos this season!
- One pack of Ugo Pumpkin and Sage Raviolini (or your pasta of choice)
- 1/3 of a kabocha squash, washed
- One jar of La Favorita Pumpkin Cream
- Two tablespoons of pureed pumpkin
- Half a can of coconut milk
- One clove of garlic, minced
- One white onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- One tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil
- Chop the kabocha into tiny chunks, leaving the skin on.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the garlic and onion for 30 seconds, stirring regularly to avoid burning.
- Add the coconut milk, pumpkin cream and pureed pumpkin and stir until well-combined, with no lumps.
- Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to the boil and add the kabocha. Bring the heat down and simmer for 6-7 minutes.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Once the kabocha is soft, drain and add to the pumpkin sauce along with the cooked pasta.
- Combine together until everything is coated with sauce, then divide between two bowls and top with a little salt and pepper. Delicious!
Next time you go pumpkin picking, wander away from the crowds and hunt down a couple of these unassuming little squashes. With their sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flavour and numerous health benefits, you’ll be craving them all year round!