I first made this recipe last Thanksgiving and it looked gorgeous on the table. It’s very simple to put together, but the final dish looks elegant and exotic. Kabocha squash is a winter squash with bright orange flesh, otherwise known as a Japanese pumpkin. Like many squash and pumpkin varieties, it is rich in beta-carotene, iron and potassium. Kabocha have a shape and color that make them particularly eye-catching, and a they have a flavor even sweeter than their butternut cousin.
They also have a fluffy/starchy texture that soaks up the butter and brown sugar as they roast. After the squash is roasted, it is drizzled with tart pomegranate molasses and garnished with toasted walnuts (or as the original recipe calls for, chestnuts) and fresh pomegranate seeds. It’s a heavenly combination and a great side dish for any fall menu.
Roasted Squash with Walnuts and Pomegranate
2 small organic kabocha squash, washed, halved lengthwise and seeded
5 tblsp unsalted butter, 3 tblsp melted
3 tblsp dark brown sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz walnuts, or vacuum-packed whole roasted peeled chestnuts (about 1 cup)
12 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup seeds from 1 pomegranate, or fresh red currants
1 1/2 tblsp pomegranate molasses
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the squash cut side up on the baking sheet; brush with melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar in the cavities; season with salt and pepper. Turn the squash over on the sheet and roast for about 1 hour, until tender and browned at the edges.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet. Add the walnuts and thyme sprigs and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and glazed with butter, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs (or use for garnish).
3. Cut each squash half into 4 wedges and arrange on a large platter. Scatter the walnuts and pomegranate seeds over the squash. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and serve.