I have always loved grilled vegetarian foods, and grilled artichokes and grilled marinated sesame tofu have been two of our signature party dishes for years. But for some reason, I’ve never spent all that much time in front of a grill myself, usually leaving it to DH. This summer all that came to an end when I started turning up the propane myself to grill all the vegetables I’ve been buying from the Farmer’s Market. I first used a spice rub on vegetables for By the Bay’s Event Cooking For Karina. It turned out so well, I began trying it with a myriad of other vegetables. My most recent creation involved a round Kabocha, Japanese green skinned pumpkin, a sesame oil spice rub, and an unexpected accompaniment of sundried tomato almond pate. And you know what? It was delicious! DH isn’t crazy about kabocha, but ever since I first had it in Japan in sweet, creamy mayo kabocha salad, I’ve been hooked on this sweet, rich cousin of the American pumpkin. Many grill restaurants in Japan offer you the opportunity to grill a host of vegetables, including kabocha right at the table. I’ve never been that crazy about the results, as pumpkin takes a while to cook and it usually ended up bland (with no GF sauces available) and undercooked, but when I incorporated my recent sesame oil spice rub technique, I came up with a new, favorite way to enjoy kabocha. Kabocha is really good for you, by the way, as it is “rich in beta carotene, with iron, vitamin C, potassium, and smaller traces of calcium, folic acid, and minute amounts of B vitamins.” But one thing I didn’t know is that while Kabocha is more common in Japan now than in the US, it actually originated in the US! Who would have thought it. According to my friend Wikipedia, “Kabocha originated on the American continental mass. Christopher Columbus found it and took it back to Europe along with tobacco, potatoes, and tomatoes. After that, the vegetable traveled around the globe and was brought to Japan from Cambodia on Portuguese ships in 1541, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Subsequently it became known as kabocha.”(Source for both: Wikipedia) Some tasters compare it to a cross between pumpkin and the sweet potato- but however you describe the flavor, it’s really delicious, and much easier to deal with than the larger American pumpkin. So, from America, to Japan, and back to America again- the kabocha has really gotten around! Today it’s grown all over the world, and even grown in California and Florida, so you should be able to find it at your local Asian market. Why not enjoy a well traveled food- and find some kabocha for yourself, today?
Grilled Kabocha Pumpkin and Almond Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1 kabocha squash, cleaned and de-seeded, sliced
2 portobello mushrooms
Toasted Sesame Oil
Baste Kabocha slices in sesame oil and sprinkle generously with (mixed, combined) spice rub. Grill until soft and glistening, but not completely charred. Do same treatment with whole portobello, until soft and thoroughly cooked. Slice to serve.
Combine sauce ingredients in a blender until thoroughly mixed and creamy. The sauce may be slightly chunky. Add water as needed so sauce is spoon-able texture. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve vegetables with dip. Enjoy! You can eat the kabocha, skin and all.