I have to say, one of the many perks of being a food blogger is that when the holidays come around, you end up eating the food twice! Once for the blog and once on the actual holiday. Ahh, life cannot get any better. This year, just like every year, I am in charge of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I have my usual go-to recipes like the apple cider brined turkey and apple and sausage sourdough stuffing, but this year, I’m going to mix it up a little. First was the savory mushroom and thyme gravy and now I’m replacing candied yams with cinnamon spiced roasted kabocha squash. This version is much healthier and dare I say, tastier! Top with spiced pecans and dried cranberries for a complete side dish.

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Serves 6

Cinnamon spiced roasted kabocha squash


45 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

    Pecans
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Squash
  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the spiced pecans. Lightly beat the egg white with the water. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans on top in one even layer. Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pecans, stirring to combine. Toast the pecans for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer pecans to a clean parchment paper. Let cool completely.
  3. Place kabocha squash on baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.
  4. Mix together honey with water, lemon juice and cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. Remove squash from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half. Discard the seeds and slice the squash into wedges.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the wedges on the baking sheet. Brush with honey sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes or until sugar has caramelized.
  8. Arrange squash onto a platter. Top with spiced pecans and dried cranberries. Serve.
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**Helpful tips and common mistakes

People tend to go for the acorn squash, butternut squash, or spaghetti squash but it’s not often that I see kabocha squash on the menu. Kabocha squash is my personal favorite winter squash. The flesh is softer and tastes sweeter than acorn or butternut – I can bake a kabocha and eat it as is, no sauce, seasonings, or anything fancy to cover it up. 

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Peeling and cutting any squash can be a struggle. I had my significant other peel the butternut squash for me one year and turned around to see him working out a sweat. Not fun for anyone. To make it a little easier, par-cook the vegetable. You should able to easily cut the squash in half, no sweat or tears necessary. You can choose to remove the peel but because kabocha becomes quite soft, it may lose its shape without it. 

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Finish baking the squash in the honey and cinnamon syrup. Make sure to cover in foil first to prevent the sugars from burning before the squash is done. Remove the cover and let the sugar caramelize in the last few minutes. 

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Okay, so I already knew kabocha squash was delicious. But cinnamon spiced, roasted and topped with spiced pecans and cranberries? I had to force myself to stop eating these slices to take a picture! Replace traditional candied yams with this updated starch and you won’t miss those marshmallows.

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