Kabocha - Your New Fall Favorite
Winter squash is one of fall's favorite vegetables. But there's a new one in town - actually, it's been around for hundreds of years, but relatively recent to the farmers' markets. Called the Japanese or Chinese pumpkin, this lovely winter squash has loads of flavor, gorgeous color and shape, and offers the versatility of other squash.
It has a dark green skin mottled with lighter green patches. It is shaped like a squat pumpkin with deep ridged going down to the bottom. The interior flesh is a nice yellow/orange, much like other winter squash. The texture is finely grained, dry, tender, and with a buttery, sweet, rich, and nutty flavor much like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin.
One of the best ways to use kabocha is to roast or bake it in the oven. Brush with butter or olive oil, add salt and pepper, and cook. Another way is to roast and then halfway through cooking time, stuff it with cooked rice, chopped mushrooms, onions, and if desired, ground beef or sausage. It can be pureed for soups or cut into cubes and mixed with other hearty vegetables for a great side dish. Try swapping it for pumpkin, butternut squash, or acorn squash in your favorite recipes.
Kabocha is also impressive in the nutrition category. It is packed with the antioxidant beta carotene and other vitamins and minerals, while being low in calories. It also has iron, calcium, and lots of fiber.
This time of year, they also make great decorative items because they stay fresh for months (if they're not cut or bruised). Just cook 'em up when done dispaying them!