Your holiday table just isn't complete without a sticky sweet and savory roasted squash dish to complement the rich flavor profiles of your menu. This roasted Japanese pumpkin is a great side dish to make all your holiday dreams come true. The sweet flavor of the pumpkin and the sweet-savory glaze meet the crunchy spiced pumpkin seeds to create the perfect marriage of flavor and texture.
Everybody loves a good roasted squash dish around the holidays. May I recommend a lovely kabocha squash this year? Kabocha is a variety of winter squash common in Japan, but available almost everywhere in the world. It is the sweetest, creamiest squash variety I have found, more like sweet potatoes than the squash varieties we're familiar with. It's perfect for either sweet or savory preparations. But I especially love to combine both flavor profiles in one amazing dish, just like we do in this particular recipe.
If you can't find kabocha squash, keep reading to find alternatives in the FAQ section below. The maple chili glaze is the perfect topper for almost any squash variety you can find!
Gather your winter squashes, team! It's time to get this party started.
What you'll need to make this baked kabocha squash recipe:
Precise measurements and instructions included in the printable full recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for roasted Japanese pumpkin:
First, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, make both glazes - one for the pumpkin seed topping, and the other for the whole kabocha squash wedges. Both have the same ingredients, just in different ratios. Combine olive oil, maple syrup, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt in a small dish for the seed glaze. Do the same for the squash glaze ingredients, combining all thoroughly.
Next, we'll tackle the squash. The skin of the kabocha squash is edible, so clean and dry your squash thoroughly. You'll want a sparkling clean Japanese kabocha pumpkin to start this recipe. Using a sharp knife and a stable cutting board, carefully slice off the bottom, so you have an even base. Cut the squash in half, and scoop out the kabocha seeds and the stringy insides of each of your squash halves.
Soak the seeds in a bowl of water and wash them off, then dry on a tea towel.
To make the crunchy spiced Japanese pumpkin seeds for topping, toss the rinsed and dried seeds onto your prepared sheet pan, then pour over the glaze. Toss and spread in a single layer on parchment over a baking sheet. Transfer to oven. The seeds will take about 30 minutes to turn into little golden brown nuggets of flavor.
Next, cut the squash halves into about 1-inch wedges. You can cut thicker wedges, if you prefer, but increase your cook time to ensure a tender squash.
Next, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and arrange your kabocha wedges in an even layer on the pan. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the kabocha glaze, then use a pastry brush to coat the orange flesh and kabocha skin liberally with the glaze.
Transfer to the oven and bake about 30 minutes, until squash is fork tender and golden. If you're looking for a deep golden brown top, switch to broil for the last minute or two. The sugars in the syrup will caramelize quickly, so keep a close eye on the browning.
Remove the baking tray from the oven. Plate the squash and add another coating of the glaze, then sprinkle with the spiced squash seeds.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
Different squashes present varying levels of sweetness and texture differences. Butternut squash is a variety most of us are familiar with, and it would make a lovely alternative to kabocha in this recipe. You can buy it whole at most grocers, or peeled and chopped, which would save you some time on your holiday prep schedule, or if you're making this squash for your meal prep. Kabocha offers a fluffier texture than butternut, but you'll still get a lovely flavor and a metric ton of nutrition.
Acorn squash and delicata squash are two more options for substitutes. And I would also substitute slices of sweet potato and use this glaze!
You can find kabocha in an orange-skin variety, but the green skin seems to be most common and widely available. You're looking for a squash with no soft spots, so run your hands around the outer skin to check. You should see a dull dark green skin with some light green spots and yellow streaks, and the squash should feel heavy for its size. You may see a yellowed spot where it sat in the field while ripening. That's completely normal.
To store, transfer leftover squash to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, bake at 350 until just heated through - about 8-10 minutes. Be careful of re-baking any squash seeds, as the sticky glaze may burn.
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