Let’s talk turkey: There’s nothing traditional about Thanksgiving 2020.
This year has been a strange brew of uncertainty and monotony, and it’s understandable to crave both comfort and adventure on your Thanksgiving table.
Enter the kabocha pumpkin: a small, squat winter squash with a dark green, edible rind and bright orange flesh that tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and a sweet potato — with a hint of chestnut.
Like all squash, the kabocha has its roots in Mesoamerica, but history has spread its seeds all over the world. Portuguese sailors first introduced the squash to Asia, and today, the modern kabocha is a favorite in Japan. (If you’ve ever ordered tempura at a sushi restaurant, you’ve probably tasted kabocha.)
Like its squash and pumpkin cousins, kabochas are amazing in soups and pies, but a simple roast is a delicious (and much easier) way to introduce this hearty fruit to your Thanksgiving menu. Add some lightly toasted walnuts and drizzled honey, and let your taste buds travel the world.
Roasted Kabocha Squash With Walnuts & Honey
Start to finish: 40 minutes
• 1 ripe kabocha squash, washed and scrubbed
• ¼ cup walnut oil (olive oil can be substituted)
• Kosher salt
• ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Carefully slice the kabocha squash in half, empty the seeds and pulp, and cut out the stem. (The seeds can be washed, dried and roasted just like pumpkin seeds).
3. Cut the squash into slices 1/2-inch thick.
4. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two), and brush both sides with the walnut (or olive) oil.
5. Sprinkle the top side generously with kosher salt, and roast for 15 minutes.
6. Remove pan, turn the squash slices, and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Sprinkle walnuts evenly over the pan, and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until slices are fork tender. Drizzle with honey and dig in!
Mimi Sabo is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing and musings on food can be found on her blog DontLickYourknife.