Thursday, November 5, 2015

Za’atar Roasted Kabocha Squash with Silan

{Funny Story} So, when I was growing up, my mom always used to make roasted kabocha squash for Shabbat, except she always called it kaboochie squash. She would send me to the store with a list, and whenever I would ask the guy in the produce department for kaboochie squash, he had no idea what I was talking about! And neither did anyone else in the store. Go figure.

Well this right here ^^^ is what “kaboochie” squash looks like. And once I made my mom show it to me the knobby weird shaped pumpkin, I never had to ask it for again. {Phew.}

Fast forward a number of years (I don’t want to date myself or anything), I was newly married and cooking for Shabbat. I wanted to make the delicious squash my mom had always made growing up, so I googled it, and found that it was actually called kabocha squash. Sorry mom.

It turns out that kabocha squash is actually a Japanese pumpkin, and the stuff is goooood. It’s literally my most favorite squash of all the knobby little things out there. Lucky for me, it’s also the hardest to cut.

Its’ so hard to cut, in fact, that Levana Kirschenbaum, Wholefoods chef par excellence, actually has a picture of herself cutting one open with a hammer in her cookbook! I don’t use a hammer in my kitchen, but here is what I do: First I remove the stem at the top and then I cut it in half vertically. I scoop out the seeds and place it flesh-side-down on my cutting board. Then, following the curve of the squash, I cut it into wedges. Voila!

Now my mom used to cook the kabocha up with a drizzle of oil and lots of brown sugar, and it was deeelish. But I wanted to bring out the savoriness of this squash, so I roasted it up with my favorite spice – za’atar. I coated it all with some sweet sticky silan, for a hint of sweetness, and finished it with an extra sprinkling of sesame seeds. You can garnish it as I did with pomegranate seeds and parsley, or just serve it up as-is for a sweet and savory bite!

Once you familiarize yourself with this awesome squash, feel free to use it in roasted pumpkin soup, my kale and kabocha salad with pears and pecans, or in recipes that call for boring old butternut squash. The flavor and texture of kabocha is by far superior, you’ll never turn back!

Related Recipes:

wilted kale & kabocha squash salad
savory butternut squash fries
za’atar roasted chickpeas
silan roasted figs

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