How to Cook Calabaza Squash: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calabaza squash is a tropical-tasting and winter-hued squash that can be found in many Latin American and specialty grocery stores. It is not only delicious if cooked the right way, but it is also rich in health benefits, making it a great addition to any diet. This guide provides a step-by-step guide of how to cook calabaza squash in various methods, as well as storing and serving tips.

What is Calabaza Squash and Where Can You Find It?

Also known as West Indian pumpkin, calabaza squash is a member of the zucchini family. It has a deep orange-brown color, oblong shape and a thick, ribbed skin that encases white flesh. The flavor of the cooked squash is similar to sweet potatoes, pumpkin and butternut squash. Calabaza squash can be found in Latin American grocery stores, some specialty stores and in some health food stores.

Calabaza squash is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. It can be roasted, boiled, steamed, mashed, or used in soups and stews. It can also be used as a substitute for pumpkin in pies and other desserts. Calabaza squash is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber.

Preparing the Calabaza Squash for Cooking

Calabaza squash should be scrubbed thoroughly with a vegetable brush under running water before cooking. Peel off the skin with either a potato peeler or paring knife. The squash can then be cut into cubes, slices or wedges. It is important to remove the seeds inside the squash, which can be done by scooping them out with a spoon.

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Once the squash is prepped, it can be cooked in a variety of ways. It can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or grilled. When boiling, the squash should be cooked until it is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. When roasting, the squash should be placed in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 30 minutes. When grilling, the squash should be placed on a preheated grill over medium-high heat and cooked for about 10 minutes, flipping once.

Roasting the Calabaza Squash

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the squash with olive oil and season with desired spices such as garlic powder, cumin, oregano, chili powder or paprika. Place the squash onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Serve hot after letting cool down for 10 minutes.

For an extra flavor boost, try adding a sprinkle of brown sugar or a drizzle of honey to the squash before roasting. You can also add a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil to the baking sheet to help the squash caramelize and get a nice golden-brown color. Enjoy your roasted calabaza squash as a side dish or as a main course with your favorite toppings.

Boiling the Calabaza Squash

Cut the squash into cubes, slices or wedges and boil in salt water or chicken stock for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. You may also add herbs and spices such as parsley, sage and bay leaves to the boiling liquid while it cooks.

Once the squash is cooked, you can use it in a variety of dishes. It can be mashed and used as a side dish, added to soups and stews, or used as a filling for tacos and burritos. You can also puree the cooked squash and use it as a base for sauces or as a topping for pizza.

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Baking the Calabaza Squash

Cut the calabaza squash into cubes or slices and place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle desired seasonings such as garlic powder, oregano or chili powder. Cover with foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender.

Stir-Frying the Calabaza Squash

Cut the calabaza squash into cubes or slices and sauté in a large pan over medium-high heat until light golden brown. Add olive oil and desired seasoning such as garlic powder, cumin and paprika. Sauté for additional 3-4 minutes or until squash is tender. Serve hot.

Storing Cooked or Uncooked Calabaza Squash

Cooked calabaza squash can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Uncooked squash can be stored in a cool place or in the refrigerator and will keep for up to one week. Uncooked calabaza squash may also be frozen in an airtight bag or container for up to six months.

Serving Ideas for Cooked Calabaza Squash

Calabaza squash can be served as a side dish, in soups, stews, salads or as an appetizer. Grilled or roasted cubed or sliced squash can also be added to tacos, sandwiches, wraps, burritos or quesadillas. Pureed cooked squash makes an excellent dip for crackers or veggie sticks.

Health Benefits of Eating Calabaza Squash

Calabaza squash is a great source of antioxidants, dietary fiber and vitamin A and C, as well as other minerals. It also contains potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and phosphorus. Eating calabaza squash can help boost immunity, decrease inflammation and may lower cholesterol levels. It may also help with weight loss due to its high fiber content.

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