Cook it now: Kabocha
If your squash vocabulary starts and ends with butternut, you are missing out big time.
There’s a wide world of gnarly-shaped, diversely-colored and wonderfully-named squashes out there to be had, but our new favorite is a Japanese variety called kabocha .
Ben Towill and Phil Winser of The Fat Radish on the Lower East Side are out with a cookbook just in time to capture fall’s incoming squash storm. The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries ($40) takes the restaurant’s menu of unfussy, vegetable-focused food, all with a charming British accent, and lets you take it home.
Though the restaurant is usually swarmed with the fashion set, thankfully these guys don’t take themselves too seriously. They say, “For us, there is nothing more exciting than the anticipation of the seasons and cooking within them. (What a pretentious thing to say, but we promise it’s true.)” The book is broken down simply into the four seasons and filled with enough handsome photos of vegetables to make you blush.
That lilting English-ness of the recipes means ideas like a spring sweet pea pot pie that is laden with a trio of snow, snap and English peas and plenty of fresh mint. We’ve already bookmarked their savory beet and Swiss chard crumble for this Thanksgiving.
But for right now we recommend heading out to hunt down the closest deep green-skinned kabocha you can get your hands on (easily found at any Greenmarket). Kabocha is blessed with a dense, sweet flesh that is reminiscent in flavor of chestnuts and it is even sweeter than butternut—with half of the carbs. Then turn your market prize into this creamy, rich soup that is completely vegan and brimming with beta-carotene, iron and vitamins C and A.
One 3-pound kabocha squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups vegetable stock
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Small handful chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
Cut the kabocha in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and the stringy flesh inside. Wrap the cleaned squash in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until softened, about an hour. Set the squash aside.
Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the squash.
Peel off and discard the skin from half of the roasted squash and add the flesh to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree. Season to taste with salt.
Cut the remaining half of roasted squash into wedges and place them in the soup. Serve the soup hot, garnishing each serving with toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of chives.
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