KabochaDelica1Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash often referred to as the Japanese pumpkin. Several years ago, when I first saw it at the farmer’s market, my curiosity convinced me to buy the unusual squash even though I knew nothing about it.

Figuring it had to be similar to other winter squashes, I simply cut it in half and roasted it.  Much to my surprise, it was amazingly good.  It’s dark green exterior and round pumpkin shape make it look quite different from a butternut squash despite having the same colored interior flesh. Though similar in flavor, compared to the more popular butternut squash, Kabocha has a richer, more dense and dry texture with a delectable sweeter flavor.  It instantly became my favorite winter squash!

However, in spite of all it’s yummy goodness, the worst part about Kabocha is cutting it. The skin is extremely thick and can be difficult to pierce.  So, sharpen your knife before preparing this squash delicacy.  In the end, I promise, it is well worth the effort.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of cubing the squash, since it is difficult to cut, simply cut it in half at the stem, scoop out the seeds and then roast it flesh side down for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  What’s your favorite way to cook squash?  Oh, please do share!  Leave me a comment below :)

Kabocha Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

1 large kabocha squash (buttercup or butternut squash are good too)
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (I buy mine because they are drier and easier to work with)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 ½ teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted coconut oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half and using a knife remove skin. Remove seeds.  Cut squash into chunks.  Place squash pieces in a baking dish.  Add ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Cook for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown on the edges.  Stir occasionally during cooking time.

Over medium high heat, toast pumpkin seeds in 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring frequently until seeds are brown, 2-4 minutes.  Transfer to a large plate and cool.  Pulse seeds in a food processor with cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Add more oil if needed.  Toss to top squash with pesto.  Serves 6.