Winter squash is one of the best parts of the fall months. Not only do I jump on the “pumpkin everything” party train, though, but I also enjoy using other squash varieties. Plus, for low FODMAP eating, for almost any recipe you have to find an alternative, as the quantities allowed of both traditional pumpkin (like the kind we carve for Halloween) and butternut squash are so small that it’s difficult to use them alone in any squash recipe. Enter kabocha squash also known as Jap Pumpkin/Japanese Pumpkin. The Low FODMAP food plan allows double the quantity of this squash as it does traditional pumpkin or butternut squash. Not only that, but it has a unique flavor, almost with a nutty/nutmeg-esque hint to it.
The only drawback to kabocha squash is that it’s a bit more difficult to cut up than traditional pumpkin or butternut squash since it’s skin is like Fort Knox. As long as you have a high quality, large chef’s knife and can use some muscle, though, it’s not all that bad. This is especially true if you’re simply roasting the squash, as you only have to cut the squash in quarters and do not need to peel the skin.
Still, it can be a bit daunting the first time you go to cut a kabocha squash (it sure was for me!!) so here is a step by step guide with photos that I hope will help you out so the task doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming.
Step One: First thing is, you must have a good chef’s knife. We’re not talking hundreds of dollars nice, but it needs to be sturdy and sharp. With the kabocha squash sitting on the counter like in the photo above, stick the tip of the knife in the center (right at the edge of the stem), push down first with the tip of the knife, then with the rest of the knife, and press firmly, rocking the knife a bit until it cuts completely through the skin. Repeat this step in the center directly opposite. Once both sides are cut, you can pull on the halves to force them apart.
Step Two: Scoop out all of the seeds from inside each half of the squash.
*NOTE: To cut the halves into thirds, place the cut and de-seeded squash half cut-side down on a cutting board that has some wet paper towels underneath it (to prevent the cutting board from sliding around on you. This is quite important, to avoid potential injury).*
If you need to cut the squash into smaller chunks for the recipe you’re using or your own preference, slice the squash into thinner wedges, like in the photo below.
***At this point, if you’re going to be roasting the squash in the large wedges, there is no need to follow any more of the steps below. Simply toss your 6 squash wedges with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil or coconut oil and any dried spices you’d like to roast it with and place the wedges skin-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet (you want the foil – it will help with cleanup!). I do not sprinkle anything on my squash for roasting (not even salt or pepper) if I’m using it in a recipe, as I use the salt, pepper and/or other seasonings within the recipe(s) themselves. But do whatever the recipe you’re using tells you to do or, if not following a recipe, do whatever your tastebuds want! Bake the oiled/spiced-up wedges in a preheated 400 degree F oven for ~40-45 minutes until the squash is fully cooked and tender. I hear you can eat the skin on this squash, but I always choose to scoop the “pulp” out and use only that. You may eat the squash as is or use in your favorite squash recipes.***
Step Four: Time to peel… I’m not going to lie, I did NOT enjoy this stage at all. I think my knife and my arm were pretty tired at this point, which may have contributed. Either way, it was super time-consuming and not fun. If you could simply run a knife easily along the inside where the squash meets the skin, it would be so easy. Unfortunately, that’s not possible due to the Fort Knox style skin on this squash. Instead, you need to lay each wedge down on their sides and cut the skin off in sections. (pain.in.the.rear!)
So there you have it! I hope you found this tutorial helpful and can start using this wonderful squash to open up a world of new recipe possibilities for Low FODMAP cooking.