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 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.
**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. 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. Finish baking the squash in the honey and cinnamon syrup. Make sure to cover the pan with 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. Okay, so I already knew kabocha squash was delicious. But cinnamon spiced roasted kabocha squash 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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