Kabocha squash is one of the many magical vegetables that appear in autumn at the farmers markets. Like butternut squash and pumpkin, it’s flesh has a vibrant orange color, a sign of the rich nutrients within. Roasted slices of kabocha squash make a perfect canvas for fall flavors, and there are many creative ways to change up this dish. I shared a similar recipe last year, which paired kabocha squash with toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
This particular incarnation was inspired by a dish we enjoyed at a great small plates restaurant in Santa Monica called Tar & Roses. It’s common to drizzle winter squash with maple syrup before roasting it, but I love the idea of adding it to fresh ricotta and serving it alongside. Crunchy fried sage and crispy slices of speck add contrasting textures and flavors.
Roasted Kabocha Squash with Maple Ricotta, Fried Sage, Crispy Speck and Pomegranate Glaze
serves 4 as a side
1 medium kabocha squash, washed, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin wedges
4 thin slices of speck
12 sage leaves
1/2 cup of fresh ricotta, drained in a cheesecloth if very wet
3 tblsp grade A maple syrup
2 tblsp pomegranate molasses
2 tblsp aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
extra virgin olive oil
salt and coarse black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line three baking sheets with parchment.
2. Place the slices of speck on one of the baking sheets and roast in the upper third of the oven until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let drain on paper towels.
3. Toss the slices of squash with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Divide between the two baking sheets and arrange them in a single layer. Roast until tender and golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes, flipping them once and switching the pans between the upper and lower racks.
4. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet until hot. Add the sage leaves and fry for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove to a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with salt. In a small bowl, mix the fresh ricotta with the maple syrup, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. In another small bowl, stir together the balsamic vinegar, the pomegranate molasses, and the pomegranate seeds.
5. When the squash is done, divide among plates and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a dollop of maple ricotta on each plate and scatter the fried sage and crispy speck on top of the squash. Drizzle with the glaze and pomegranate seeds.