It’s easy to eat more plant-based foods when the preparation is as simple as this maple-glazed kabocha squash. In minutes you can enjoy tender, sweet bites of antioxidant-rich winter squash that are wonderful as a side or for breakfast. How is that possible? No peeling or prolonged cook time is required!
Maple-Glazed Kabocha Squash is a Quick No-Peel, Plant-Based Dish
It wasn’t long ago that I said, “kabocha squash, what’s that?” My local grocer overflowed with butternut and acorn squash, but kabocha – well that was something I had never seen. Now you can find this thin-skinned squash in almost every grocer’s squash bin. Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash that looks like a green pumpkin, which is why it’s sometimes called a Japanese pumpkin.
Kabocha squash has orange flesh and a sweet flavor that’s similar to other winter squashes, but unlike most of the others, it doesn’t need to be peeled. It’s outer shell is more tender, easier to cut through, and it softens up just enough as it cooks.
Kabocha squash can be roasted, which is delicious. But it’s also great when steamed or sauteed, like in this maple-glazed kabocha squash recipe. I use somewhat of a hybrid boil, braise, and saute technique to quickly cook the squash, while giving it a nice glaze. I always feel like I’m getting a little extra nutrition from the peel too.
This recipe is adapted from my 5-Spice Kabocha Squash Recipe. Try that one if you like sweet and savory, Asian-inspired flavors. It’s equally delicious!
Special Diet Notes: Maple-Glazed Kabocha Squash
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, unrefined sugar-free, and paleo-friendly.
- ¾ pound unpeeled seeded kabocha squash, cut into ¾- to 1-inch chunks (see Squash Note below)
- ⅓ cup water, plus additional as needed
- 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon + a pinch salt, divided
- Pinch ground ginger
- Add the water, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon (use ⅛ teaspoon for lightly cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon for notably cinnamon), ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ginger to a large skillet with a lid. Whisk to combine. Add the squash and stir to coat.
- Place the skillet over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let the squash simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring often, until the liquid has thickened into a glaze, and the squash (and peel) is nice and tender. This takes me about 5 minutes, but if the liquid evaporates and your squash isn’t yet done to your liking, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.
- Add that pinch of salt, to finish, and stir to combine.