All Hallows’ Eve is just around the corner. A multitude of winter squash varieties abounded at our farmers’ market this week, begging to be transformed into delicious, ghoulish delights.
Kabocha is a variety of winter squash. It is generally green and pumpkin-shaped with bright orange flesh, sweeter than pumpkin and butternut. Kabocha is hugely popular in Japan, who reportedly imports most of the California, Colorado, Tonga and New Zealand crops. The name “kabocha” is thought to be a Japanese variation of “Cambodia,” from where Portuguese sailors first brought the squash to present to Japanese royalty as a gift in the 1540s. 1
Kabocha is high in vitamin A, with iron, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. 2
Kabocha can be used as one would use pumpkin and other winter squashes: in pies, muffins, cookies, ravioli, and soups. The Japanese use it in tempura and sweets. In Thailand, they are cubed into creamy coconut curries. 3
This week’s dish is Kabocha Jack-o’-lantern Custard, adapted from Libby’s famous pumpkin pie recipe. Our recipe uses fresh, roasted kabocha squash instead of canned pumpkin. Roasting the squash intensifies its flavor, and caramelizes its sugars. Kids often enjoy just the roasted squash, perhaps with a little butter and maple syrup or soy sauce. The butter, aside from the fact it is delicious, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble beta carotene. 4
Rinse and dry the seeds, toss them in a little oil and salt, and roast them in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350F until golden brown and fragrant for a bonus treat kids can use to decorate their custards, or enjoy as a snack.
Listen to the “Monster Mash“ as your family mashes together the custard ingredients!
Kabocha Jack-o’-lantern Custards
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 1.5 hours
Cooling Time: 1-2 hours
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 3/4 cups of one roasted kabocha squash
oil for brushing on squash before roasting
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: whipped cream (whipping cream, fine sugar, and vanilla extract), roasted kabocha seeds, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and/or icing for decoration.
Ramekins, small Pyrex dishes, or 9″ pie tin
Optional: Pastry bag (or non-pleated plastic bag with small hole cut in lower corner) for whipped cream
1. Cut kabocha squash in half.
2. Scoop out seeds with spoon.
3. Brush oil on surfaces of kabocha that will contact baking sheet surface to prevent sticking.
4. Place kabocha skin-side up on baking sheet, and roast at 350F for ~1 hour until soft. Let cool. Scoop kabocha flesh from skin into bowl, and set aside.
5. Beat eggs in large bowl with whisk. Stir in roasted kabocha, sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves. Gradually stir in milk.
6. Pour into ramekins, small Pyrex dishes, or 9″ pie tin. Place on baking sheet.
7. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F. For ramekins and small Pyrex dishes, bake for ~30 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. For a 9″ pie tin, bake 40 to 50 minutes.
8. Cool on wire rack for 1-2 hours.
9. Optional: Whip cream with fine sugar and vanilla, and spoon into pastry bag.
10. Decorate custards to make jack-o’-lantern faces/designs with whipped cream, roasted kabocha seeds, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and/or icing.
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(Note: Use search term “winter squash all varieties”)