Sometimes, I feel like a bit of a produce pusher.
There was back in (what felt like summer but was actually) late fall, when I made T-Man try green tomatoes with me.
Surely I can’t forget to mention that in the past 2 months, I’ve made spaghetti squash for everyone.and.their.mom – I’ve made it for my parents, T-Man (3 times), friends, and most recently for our Vegan Middle East Feast. I do owe you all a post on spaghetti squash…definitely in line for one of my next installments of Meatless Monday.
But you know, I have no bias towards spaghetti squash.
Kabocha can come to the party too.
Especially if said kabocha is breaded in crunchy, spicy coating and pan/oven fried to perfection.
This was my first time cooking kabocha squash on its own. The night before, I cut the other half of the squash into cubes and roasted it, then stirred it into some meaty pasta sauce to add some veggies to an otherwise meat and pasta-heavy dinner. But this time, the kabocha was front row center, and it was glorious. Kabocha is very similar to acorn squash in shape, but I found it most similar to butternut squash in taste. The crunchy coating was such an awesome contrast with the squashy interior, which kind of had a creamy texture to it!
I got the idea for these from the lovely Jessica, but kind of winged it and created my own flavor profile. I used a very similar breading to my fried green tomato BLTs, and instead of the seasonal sage she suggested, I added cilantro and some Mexican spices….and hot sauce.
Just trust me on this one, guys. I wasn’t even going to post the recipe…until T-Man said he loved them and that I should. If my meat & potatoes lovin’ boyfriend liked this, I’m sure you will too.
Spicy Crispy Squash Rounds
makes 4-6 rounds, depending on size of squash
loosely based on a recipe from HowSweetEats.com
1 small kabocha or acorn squash
1 egg, or 2 egg whites, beaten
1 tbsp hot sauce
1/2 cup cornmeal (I used polenta)
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
oil, for frying
Very carefully slice your squash into equal sized rounds (about 1/2-3/4 inch each). I find that piercing squash a few times with a knife or fork, then microwaving it makes it easier to cut into. Peel afterward if desired. Add salt and pepper to rounds and set aside while you set up your breading station.
Put beaten egg and hot sauce in one dish, and remaining dry ingredients (from cornmeal to cilantro) in other dish. Full disclosure: I didn’t have any eggs, so I used hot sauce on its own.. It worked fine. Press each squash round first into egg mixture, making sure all sides get covered, and then into the breadcrumb/cornmeal/flour/spices, again making sure to coat the entire round. Repeat until all the rounds are fully coated in breading.
You can cook these one of two ways:
- If you want to oven fry them, your best results will be to line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and a wire rack to ensure all sides get equally crispy. Preheat oven to 425 F, spray coated squash rounds with cooking spray, and bake for 40 minutes, turning once at the halfway mark.
- Because I don’t have a wire rack, I improvised: I decided to pan fry these, then because the squash was thick and I wanted to ensure it cooked through, I finished them in the oven. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Fry squash rounds on each side until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side. Set finished rounds on a paper towel. When they have all fried, finish cooking in the oven for about 10 minutes on each side, flipping once.
Serve as a side dish, or over a bed of greens for a light dinner.