Dinner / Health

i love …

… kabocha squash.

I went to the store looking for a spaghetti squash to test an imagined recipe, but I’m learning that the commisary on post doesn’t restock as often as I get hairbrained cooking impulses. A vacant spaghetti squash crate wasn’t going to ruin my day though. I grabbed a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) instead.

20130109-215913.jpg It looks a lot like an acorn squash but it’s a little bigger and is more tender when cooked – if you can even imagine such a thing. I can’t even articulate the deliciousness of it’s silky interior and the incredible edible exterior. It’s like an outrageously delicious cross between my two favorite foods – sweet potatoes and butternut squash. The inside is sweet and it has this perfect rich velvety texture.

Of course I had to look up something about the nutritional value, and let’s just say I have a new favorite! Fewer calories and half the carbs if butternut squash?! This discovery just keeps getting better and better.

So how to prepare it? A million ways. Today I sliced it in half, and baked it on 350 degrees for 45 minutes until a knife ran through the skin like butter. I downed a quarter of it plain. Yes, plain. It is that good. Then I used half of it to make sage and fontina cheese squash patties.

20130109-220429.jpg I got the idea from Ina Garten who made Cheesy Chive Risotto patties on her show the other day. I borrowed her patty concept and wanted to see if using something other than rice would hold up. My original vision was to use the sturdy spaghetti squash (which probably would have been easier to handle than the kabocha.) However, with some very careful handling, the patties came out looking as nice as they tasted. Only one of the precious circles turned into a messy blob when I tried to transfer to a plate. Still edible though! The ones pictures were the hardest since I made them kind of big. After this batch I stuck with little baby ones – slider size.

Sage and Fontina Cheese Kabocha Squash Patties

2 cups grated kabocha squash (or any kind of winter squash)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

panko bread crumbs for crust
3 Tbsp vegetable oil for cooking

Bake halved squash for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool, then use a cheese grater to shred the squash – don’t worry about shredding the skin. In fact, when I got down to the skin … I ate it! Couldn’t resist. I suppose you could mash the squash it with a potato masher but shredding it gives it an airier texture. Set squash aside. Combine all other ingredients except panko crumbs until well mixed, then add in squash stirring lightly with a fork. Refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up and make it easier to form patties.

In a medium saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Form 2 inch wide x 3/4 inch thick rounds, coat with panko crumbs, and place in hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side.

Serve with baby arugula and Dijon vinaigrette. Enjoy!

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