From autumn to spring pumpkins and squashes appear in many traditional Italian dishes. One of my favorites is this recipe for roasted kabocha squash fries.
My new Italian aunt :: zia, Anna Rita, shared this recipe with me. Would you believe me that it only calls for one ingredient? Well, it’s true. All that is needed for this delicious side dish is a ripe kabocha squash. In Italian, there is no linguistic difference between pumpkin and squash and therefore you will find that all varieties (at least to my knowledge) are called zucca :: pumpkin. In the U.S., however, pumpkins are considered a type of squash but not all squash are a type of pumpkin; it’s like saying a Golden Retriever is a dog but not all dogs are Golden Retrievers.
To prepare this recipe, simple cut the squash in half :: a metà. Scoop out the seeds and carefully remove the rind with a sharp knife. Next slice the peeled squash and cut the moon shaped crescents in half. The thickness of the slices depends on personal taste. Mr. Italicano likes thin slices so they are more crunchy whereas I prefer them thicker so they are dense.
Distribute the pieces on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and bake at (170°C) for 40-60 minutes or until the squash has a deep orange roasted color. The time will vary every time depending on how you sliced them, so just keep an eye on them every 10 minutes. There is no need to flip :: girare the pieces, simply turn down the heat if the edges start to burn. For the roasted squash fries you see in the photo, I’ve baked them for 60 minutes and they were thickly cut.
These roasted squash fries are madly addicting. Good thing they are 100% natural and are great for you. Pumpkins and squash are low-calorie and rich in vitamin A, C, beta-carotene and anti-oxidants. They are also kid-friendly and are the perfect healthy alternative to french fries :: patatine fritte. I love to eat them plain but you can also serve them with a healthy greek yogurt sauce if you like to dip your fries.
I live close to Mantova, a small town in Italy known for its annual pumpkin festival. Here there are lively markets and pumpkin/squash themed dinners that feature delicious recipes like tortelli di zucca :: pumpkin tortelli, risotto di zucca :: pumpkin risotto or gnocchi di zucca :: pumpkin gnocchi, just to name a few. My mouth is already watering.
Unlike classic potato fries, this is a side dish that can be served cold :: freddo. In fact, I usually make these ahead of time so it frees up the oven for other dishes that I need to prepare.
I have yet to try these fries with a different kind of pumpkin; if you do, please leave a comment below on how they turn out. The kabocha variety, also known as the Japanese pumpkin, is one of the sweetest (even more so than butternut) so there is no need for any olive oil or salt :: sale. Simply by roasting the pumpkin you are able to achieve a heavenly burst of flavor. Try these with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.
- 1 kabocha squash
- Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C).
- Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and carefully remove the rind with a sharp knife.
- Slice the peeled squash, cut the moon shaped crescents in half and distribute on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. The thickness of the slices depends on personal taste and will affect the baking time.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes for thinly sliced fries and about 60 minutes for thickly sliced. Check every 10 minutes to make sure that the fries are not burning; turn down the heat if needed. The fries are done when they have a deep roasted orange color. No need to flip or rotate the fries while baking.