In this vegetable side dish, roasted kabocha squash slices are showered with crispy garlic, capers, and chilies, and served over a simple, lemony yogurt sauce. Start to finish this takes about 35 minutes to assemble, and the combination is irresistible! 🌶 🌶 🌶 🌶
Here’s a vegetable side dish I am loving: lemony yogurt sauce + roasted kabocha squash + spicy garlic-caper oil.
The garlicky oil in this recipe gets its kick from Calabrian chili paste, which, if you are unfamiliar, is a mixture of crushed Calabrian chilies (a hot, Italian variety), olive oil, vinegar, and salt. I had read about Calabrian chilies over the years in various food publications, but it was chef Missy Robbin’s newsletter in February of this year that finally inspired me to purchase a jar.
In the newsletter, Missy shared her favorite brand of Calabrian chili paste as well as a recipe for a Calabrian chili vinaigrette, which, at her restaurant Lilia she spoons over grilled clams and toasted bread crumbs (yum) as well as other fish and vegetable dishes.
I still have not made the vinaigrette, but at the tail end of last winter, I replaced the crushed red pepper flakes in a sauce used in a favorite green bean recipe with a spoonful of the Calabrian chili paste and poured the mixture over roasted kabocha squash slices.
The combination was irresistible, the heat and the acidity from the Calabrian chili paste so nicely balancing the sweet, earthy squash. I never got around to sharing the recipe last winter, because this discovery coincided with the onset of what many home cooks face in early March: winter squash (and root vegetable!) fatigue. Thought it was better to save until now.
I hope you all love this one as much as I.
What to serve with this roasted kabocha squash?
Depending on what else I’m cooking, sometimes I’ll simply make the squash with the spicy oil. But to make the dish a little more substantial, I’ll tumble the roasted squash slices over my favorite, simple yogurt sauce: Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, and salt.
We’ve been eating it this way all week either topped with a poached egg or aside tinned fish, most often this Korean Double Hot Tuna, which we love.
Alternatively, if you wanted to keep this vegetarian, I think you could throw some chickpeas over the squash before you drizzle over the chili oil.
Can you eat the skin of the kabocha squash?
I made this recipe yesterday in Instagram Stories, and I received so many messages asking if you can eat the skin of the kabocha squash. The answer is: Yes! It’s delicious.
And the truth is, you can eat the rind of so many squashes. Delicata comes to mind first, but the skin of Acorn and others, including, butternut squash are also edible.
Here’s the play-by-play:
How to Roast Kabocha Squash
First, halve and seed the squash. Kabocha squash, like other varieties of squash, is not the easiest to cut into. I whack it with a sharp knife and use force to split the squash in half. If you own a microwave, you can microwave it for 2 to 4 minutes, which will soften it and make it easier to cut.
Cut the squash into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spread the squash onto a sheet pan, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 400ºF until …
Meanwhile: slice 4 to 6 cloves of garlic thinly.
Place the garlic in a skillet with olive oil, capers, and Calabrian chili paste. Place the skillet over low heat.
Meanwhile, smear a lemony yogurt sauce — Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, and salt — over a platter.
Arrange the squash slices over top.
Finally: crank up the heat under the skillet; then …
… pour it over the squash. This is delicious served immediately or at room temperature.
In this recipe I use Calabrian chili paste, but please don’t feel you have to rush out to get it to make this … but maybe order it for future use? Or holiday gift giving? I love the stuff.
As noted in the ingredient list, use 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes, depending on your heat tolerance, in its place.
1 kabocha squash, roughly 2.5 – 3 pounds
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons capers
4 to 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Calabrian chili paste or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, see notes above
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Heat the oven to 400ºF convection. Halve the kabocha squash — be careful! It’s not easy. If you own a microwave, I’ve heard microwaving the squash for 2 to 4 minutes will soften it, and therefore make it easier to cut into. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Arrange the squash slices on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season liberally with salt. Spread the squash into an even layer. Transfer pan to the oven. Roast for 3o minutes or so, checking after 20. I find it generally takes roughly 30 minutes to get some good caramelization on the underside of the squash slices. Once you see the undersides of the squash looking caramelized, transfer the pan to the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, checking often, until the top surface of the squash slices begin to lightly caramelize. Remove pan from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons capers, 1 tablespoon Calabrian chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes, and thinly sliced garlic cloves into a small skillet. Set it over low heat.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cup of Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste. Add more salt to taste. Smear this yogurt mixture over a platter. Tumble the roasted squash slices over the yogurt smear, and arrange them to fit.
Once the platter is arranged with the yogurt and squash, you can crank up the heat under the skillet stovetop. Cook until the garlic just begins to color and the capers begin popping — it’s OK if the garlic gets crisp, but you don’t want it to get too dark or it will taste bitter. Pour the sizzling oil over the squash. Serve immediately or at room temperature.