Roasted Kabocha Squash with Pepitas & Rosemary Brown Butter by Justin Wangler & Tracey Shepos Cenami
Roasted Kabocha Squash with Pepitas & Rosemary Brown Butter
Excerpted from Season: Wine Country Food, Farming, & Friends by Jackson Family Wines chefs Justin Wangler and Tracey Shepos Cenami:
Kabocha is one of the best winter squashes to cook at home because it’s not overly sweet—a bit like a sweet potato— and you don’t have to peel it. In our two-step cooking method, you halve the squash and roast it, then cut the roasted halves into wedges and brown them in a sauté pan. It’s a cheffy technique that’s worth the extra effort because every piece turns out perfectly cooked, moist inside, and evenly browned. Squash usually needs a little extra textural love. Here, we go with toasted pepitas and pomegranate seeds for a nutty crunch and juicy pop. And to round it all out, we finish the plate with rosemary brown butter, smoky Espelette pepper, flaky salt, and fresh mint.
1 kabocha squash, 2 to 3 lb
2 tablespoons rice oil or other neutral-flavored oil
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1⁄4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon ground Espelette pepper
Maldon sea salt, for finishing
1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn
This is one of our fall buffet stars, and we love to serve it family-style as part of a Thanksgiving or holiday spread.
To roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half through the stem end and scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Coat a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the pan. Coat the peel with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
Bake the squash for 25 to 30 minutes, until knife tender. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cut each squash half lengthwise into quarters.
To sear the squash: Put 2 tablespoons butter and the squash wedges in a large sauté pan. Season the squash with an additional 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Place over medium heat and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Flip the squash pieces and cook for 4 minutes longer, until the second side is golden. Transfer the squash to a platter.
To brown the butter: Discard any butter in the pan, wipe out the pan with a paper towel, place the pan over medium heat, and immediately add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the rosemary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter is brown and fragrant and rosemary is crispy.
To serve: Pour the rosemary brown butter over the squash and garnish with the pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with the Espelette pepper and Maldon salt, top with the mint, and serve immediately.
TAKING THE CURE
We grow all kinds of beautiful squash and pumpkins, and we loan them out to our staff, friends, and families to use as ornaments during the holiday season. Then we re-collect them and cook them! There’s a strategy behind this. Curing winter squash at cool room temperature for a few weeks develops their sugars. The thicker the skin, the longer the squash will last, so use tender squash like delicata first and hardier types like kabocha last. —Tucker