I had honestly never cooked with calabaza squash before this. I’m sure that I’ve seen them around and overlooked something enormous that I didn’t quite know what to do with! But I do enjoy picking up ingredients at random and just kind of winging it. There are so many delicious things out there that we have never tried before! And roasted calabaza squash was my endeavor today.
It most certainly did not disappoint! Roasted calabaza squash is my new favorite obsession. Plus, the squash weighed almost 10 pounds (9.55), so now I have pounds and pounds and pounds of squash purée to figure out what to do with! A most delectable dilemma.
Where Do You Get Calabaza Squash?
I have been able to find calabaza fairly consistently at my favorite out of the way grocery store: Woodman’s. Now, this is an employee owned grocery store. At first it might sound like some podunk independent grocer, but it really is a massive store that’s probably almost the size of a Costco. It doesn’t sell quite as much food in bulk (although there definitely is some) and there are no memberships. But it does cater to a large Asian and Latin American base and boasts a wide range of otherwise difficult to find produce, cheese, vegan and gluten free products, and the widest range of Gatorade flavors that I have ever seen. And, when you live in rural Wisconsin? It’s a lifesaver! I was there the other day in the tahini isle musing with another woman about how far we drove to actually get to a grocery store with tahini.
Now, for most people this isn’t really a viable option! And I do confess that it can be tricky to find. But I do imagine that it’s out there or, at the very least, there are similar varieties of squash available. Asian grocery stores and farmer’s markets tend to do a better job at supplying less commonly found produce. I’m also particularly fond of Ambercup Squash, which does tend to be more widely available and, while smaller with larger seeds, has a similar color, consistency, and flavor.
Why Are Some Calabaza Green?
Calabaza will also change color over time. This happens with a lot of produce. Most varieties of peppers and tomatoes start out as green and then turn red over time. It’s why green bell peppers are typically less expensive than orange or red bell peppers. They don’t need as much time to ripen, so they’re overall less expensive and less resource intensive to produce. So, that savings is passed on to customers. They’re also less ripe and tend to have a slightly more bitter flavor than their sweeter counterparts.
Whether this is the same way with calabaza squash? I have absolutely no idea! Calabaza squash tend to weigh about 10 pounds. So, buying a green-tinted one and a deeper orange one and comparing them side by side is not exactly practical! Although I wouldn’t be surprised if they get a greater depth of flavor with longer ripening times, I probably wouldn’t assume that it makes much of a difference. If you closed your eyes and had to guess whether there were red or green peppers on your pizza? I doubt that many people would notice or really care.
The above pictures are of the exact same squash taken two and a half weeks apart.
Is Calabaza REALLY that Orange?
I tend not to edit my photos at all. I try to make sure that I take pictures in good lighting (preferably natural lighting, but I do cook at night sometimes when it’s dark and my kitchen has 0 windows, so even on the sunniest of days I sometimes need some help!).
But my camera is having such a hard time taking pictures of this squash!! It’s soooooooo orange. I got turmeric for calabaza curry and contemplated not using it because the squash was already so bright! I kid you not. This thing is practically fluorescent.
I imagined calabaza being a similar color to a pie pumpkin or butternut squash. There is absolutely no comparison. This is brighter than an orange. It’s about the color of a ripe habanero or a dark orange crayon. You could probably dye clothes in the amount of natural coloring present in this fruit. I’ve just been standing in awe of it. It’s rare that you see anything roasted that retains its color so much!
It’s important to note that calabaza also range in color from a deep green to a rusty orange. These are merely differing levels of ripeness, but have little-to-no bearing on the color of the flesh.
Will It Dye Your Fingers?
Yes, yes it will. Calabaza will dye your fingers orange. Not nearly as bad as turmeric will and it will mostly wash off! But it will dye your fingers to some extent. As well as your clothes, carpet, countertops, and kitten feet. I never recommend cooking in anything that you’re worried about getting dyed the color of food or covered in oil stains. Which absolutely NEVER come out!
In that sense, I’m not overly worried about calabaza. However, if you do catch yourself attempting to cook in white or in delicate fabrics? Maybe don’t attempt it with roasted calabaza squash.
Although if you’d like to see something that I fear to the Nth degree because, no matter how much you try, it is absolutely going to destroy something that you love and care about because they literally use it to dye other foods and clothing items bright freaking orange? Turmeric.
What Does Calabaza Squash Taste Like?
Calabaza squash tastes much like a more robust butternut squash or an elevated sweet potato. The flavor is rich and smooth with a sweetness that’s incredibly decadent. The consistency of the purée is almost that of a perfect custard ice cream. I absolutely adore it!
With almost 10 pounds of this squash, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all of it. I went in with the intention of making curry. I’ll have more than enough to make several curries, if I please! And intend on making a spicy curry with habaneros from my garden. Upon actually tasting the calabaza purée, my next thought was that it would be absolutely delicious in sweets, particularly with chocolate. Perhaps a fudge or mouse.
The sky is the limit, though! And calabaza is a great substitute for any number of other squash. I’ve heard that it’s the squash of choice when substituting butternut and other more Western varieties. So, maybe it’s only fitting that our first foray into calabaza is in anticipation of a Thai-style curry!
Calabaza weigh about 10 pounds each. Ten pounds of squash will NOT fit in a food processor all at once! It has to be puréed in 2 batches. So, none of these photos represent exactly how much squash that you end up with. The final photos are close. But even that batch is missing about a cup and a half that went into Slow Cooker Black Beans to make room in the food processor.
What to Make w/ Roasted Calabaza Squash
Some of the things that I’ve delved into in my newfound calabaza squash obsession include several varieties of curry and burritos as well as, of course, roasting the seeds! Which no squash should ever be roasted without. There is also a full list of everything that I used this Calabaza Squash in.