Even though current temps in Florida reveal no hint of “Fall” approaching, I’m starting to get the bug to cook Fall-type dishes, which always includes hard squash. I absolutely adore Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Kabocha and Pumpkin, and am open to any other, if presented. In my house, cooking squash is a sure sign that temperatures are changing, so my hope is that after making some today, the weather man will bring good news soon 🙂
I recently picked up a football-sized Calabaza at the farmer’s market. To be honest, I’ve never cooked one, but heard they’re sort of a cross between Butternut and Acorn so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
I usually just cut squash in half (or quarters), remove the seeds and roast in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper, then scrape out the cooked flesh and add butter — yummy. Sometimes I peel it, cube it and saute it in butter, olive oil and fresh rosemary. Also very yummy. But today I sliced this squash, coated them in some of the dressing (see recipe), sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted about 25 mins.
The bottoms became caramelized from the natural sugars in the squash, and the dressing kept the pieces moist and flavorful. Once cooked, I spooned on more dressing (plus fresh cilantro) and topped with a little Maldon (any finishing salt or kosher salt would work). I opted to add cumin to my dressing, which gives a bit of Cuban flavor, a nice addition to the sweet/caramelized squash, and quite a burst of flavor. Even if you leave out the cumin, the zing of the lime, garlic and fresh cilantro adds a nice touch to the sweet squash.
Look at this squash! See all those brown, roasted spots? Brown = FLAVOR, making this squash even more delicious.
It could be served with flavorful Jasmine or Basmati rice and other veggies for a great vegetarian meal, or it would go nicely with slow-roasted pork, or chicken, and green veggies.
P.S. – A challenge with hard squashes is the peeling process. But if you have a sharp chef’s knife, it’s a snap. For this recipe, I experimented by leaving the skin on half the slices as I roasted them. I didn’t notice a difference in flavor once cooked, so if peeling uncooked, hard squash isn’t appealing to you, simply roast with the skin on and remove it later with a knife or fork – it’s a lot easier.
- ½ Calabaza, seeds removed, sliced into 1" strips (reserve the other half for another recipe, or simply double recipe for a larger crowd)
- 1 Tb. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tb. rice vinegar
- ½ Tb. honey
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2.5 - 3 Tb. canola oil (test for preference)
- Pinch kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp. cumin (optional)
- Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (reserve until prior to serving)
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare the dressing by whisking ingredients in a small bowl (but reserve the cilantro for mixing into the dressing just before serving cooked squash).
- Cut squash in half, lengthwise.
- Remove seeds from each half (you can roast them in the oven for a healthy snack).
- Slice half the squash into 1” pieces, lengthwise. Keep the skin on for an easier process, or simply use your chef’s or paring knife to trim away the skin on each.
- Brush a little dressing over each side of squash. Place on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Place in oven and roast 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the squash. If it comes out clean and the squash is soft, they’re ready!
- Transfer squash to a plate.
- Add cilantro to Dressing, then spoon over the warm squash. Sprinkle a bit of finishing salt (or kosher salt) and serve.