Fun Fact: I love winter squash. Every darn one of them.
Clearly, I’m Butternut-obsessed, but I swoon over all the squashes at the farmer’s market: Acorn, Red Kuri, Buttercup, Carnival, Delicata, and even the occasional gem like a Crown Prince Pumpkin or a Kabocha squash makes it into my bag. I currently have three Acorns, four Butternuts, and two Delicatas sitting on my kitchen counter and I’m already excited to hit up the farmer’s market tomorrow to see what new exciting squashes I can get my hands on. Maybe there will be a Blue Hubbard that isn’t the size of my torso…probably not, but a girl can dream, right?
Growing up, we prettymuch only had Butternut at our dinner table. Granted, Butternut squash is a variety of winter squash first cultivated in Massachusetts (#historynerd), so maybe it’s a regional necessity that Butternut squash be on our dinner table all fall and winter long. But still, I felt a little cheated when I realized there’s a whole world of squash out there waiting to be eaten.
When I finally went off to college and found, amongst other critical coming-of-age-discoveries, just how many different winter squashes there are besides Butternut, my reaction was almost identical to this.
What’s this? What’s this? There’s squashes everywhere! What’s this? There’s pretty pumpkins everywhere oh wake up Chels this isn’t fair! WHAT’S THIS?!
Please tell me you understand the Nightmare Before Christmas reference and I’m not just a babbling fool?
Either way, let’s talk about Kabocha squash. It looks like a precious, striped, stubby, bumpy little green pumpkin, and has a delightfully dense, almost sweet potato-like texture.
If you spend any time on the internet researching winter squashes (no? just me?) you’ll find Kabocha and Buttercup squash look and taste almost identical to each other. What’s more, is that many of the Buttercups you will find at the store are actually Kabochas masquerading as Buttercups; worse yet, sometimes you will even find Kabocha’s being pawned off as Buttercups. So, if my research has taught me anything, it’s that a Kabocha has a rounded top whereas a Buttercup has a flat top, and frankly, it doesn’t matter which you buy because they’re both tasty little squashes.
The only thing you really need to know, regardless of whether you end up with a Kabocha or a Buttercup, is that they both achieve maximum squash glory when roasted.
This dish is simple in nature: less than 10 basic ingredients, including salt and pepper. Roasted squash, lime juice, honey, chili flakes, cilantro, and scallions create a symphony of flavor and texture without requiring much time and effort.
When cut into wedges and roasted, the Kabocha gets soft and caramelized -almost velvety- while the thin green skin becomes tender enough to eat.
The dense, creamy roasted squash gets drizzled with a mixture of lime juice and zest, honey, and chili flakes, then handfuls of cilantro and scallions go on top to brighten everything up.
The end result is a pan of squash that’s good enough to be the star of the meal. Sure, you could toss a few wedges on top of pasta, burrito bowls, salads, cooked grains, or tuck them into tacos or quesadillas, but they’re truly good enough to pile high on a plate and eat as is. Okay, sure, you could serve them as a side dish, but I’m not sure how the royal Kabocha would feel about playing second fiddle to any lowly dinner foods. Maybe you can tell the Kabocha that it’s the main meal and everything else on your plate is just a side dish? I’m not sure it would believe you, but you’re certainly welcome to try.
I hope you give this simple, flavorful squash a try. It’s:
a little spicy (or a lot, if you want!)
tangy from the lime
dense + velvety
and so, so satisfing.
If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Leave a comment here, or take a picture of your roasted squash and share it with me on Instagram!
- 1 medium Kabocha or Buttercup Squash*
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper/chili flakes*
- 1 Tablespoon raw honey
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 4-6 small scallions
- 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- 2. While the oven preheats, cut your squash into 16 wedges. First, cut in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the middle. Then, cut the halves in half, and in half again and again until you have approximately 1-inch thick wedges of squash. My 4-pound Kabocha yielded 16 1-inch slices- depending on the size of yours, you may get a few more or a few less.
- 3. Lay the wedges of squash out on your prepared pan, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. This may seem like a lot of salt, but it's the only time you're salting the squash, so the full teaspoon is necessary. Give the squash wedges a rub to get some oil, salt, and pepper on every slice, then put the pan in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.
- 4. While the squash roasts, zest and juice the lime into a small bowl. Add the honey and chili, and stir to combine. Roughly chop the cilantro and thinly slice the scallions.
- 5. When the squash is tender, remove it from the oven. Drizzle on the lime mixture, then sprinkle the cilantro and scallions on as well. Serve immediately, either straight from the pan or transferred to a platter.
- 6. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week, if you can possibly resist eating all of it the day you make it.
- *Most Kabocha's are roughly the same size- I weighed mine to be sure, and it was 4 pounds. As long as you don't pick a particularly tiny or massive one, there will be plenty of lime/honey/chili sauce to cover all the squash.
- *If you have a favorite chili flake in your pantry, feel free to use that instead of crushed red pepper flakes. I recommend starting with just 1 teaspoon, which makes this dish spicy, but not overly so with the addition of lime and honey to balance it. If you are very sensitive to heat, start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if needed.