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Cozy season is here, and so are our favorite produce harvests that come with the season. Of course, the most iconic is the squash. Mountains of squash are everywhere this time of year, from decorative displays and local pumpkin patches, right to the plate — as in this oyster mushroom and kabocha squash pasta recipe.
The kabocha squash is a gourd that has grown on me over time. Pumpkin-shaped but smaller in size and dark green on the outside, it has a sweeter profile, almost sweet potato–like. You may have had kabocha squash before, even if it sounds new. Kabocha actually means “pumpkin” in Japanese, and many “pumpkin” dishes on Japanese, Thai, and other menus actually employ kabocha. Conveniently, it’s one of the easiest squashes to cook; cut into pieces, toss with some salt and olive oil, and it can be roasted, skin and all, and ready to eat within 45 minutes. While that would be great on its own, here we build on it with the addition of mushrooms and pasta to create a beautiful fall dish.
If you have the time, we recommend you make your own broth. But store-bought vegetable broth or even plain water will work here, you’ll just need to balance the salt content. If you do end up making your own broth, make a large batch and freeze some! You’ll never know when you’ll need it but it’s soup season after all, so we bet it’ll go fast.
When cutting the squash, be cautious, as the skin can be a little tough. A slip of the knife when applying heavy pressure can be dangerous. A large sturdy knife would be the best tool for the job here. You’ll get quite a bit out of your squash, and may have leftover sauce. When that happens, take the leftovers and add a few splashes of water to make squash soup for another day.
Oyster Mushroom and Kabocha Squash Pasta
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in half. With a spoon, clean the insides of its seeds. Cut each half into three equally-sized pieces and place on a sheet tray.
- Cut the onion in half and peel off the outer layer. Place on the same sheet tray along with the squash. Generously drizzle olive oil and a teaspoon of salt all over both the onion and squash. Let roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
- Once finished, put the roasted onion and squash into the jar of a high-powered blender. Add garlic, broth, and remaining salt and oil, and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a fridge-safe container and set aside.
- Next, shred your oyster mushrooms to smaller pieces by hand (though you can leave them whole if you’d prefer). In a large skillet with a thin layer of oil, cook the mushrooms on medium high heat. Cook until mushrooms have cooked out their water and start to crisp up, 5 to 10 minutes.
- As you wait for the mushrooms to cook, follow the usual instructions of the pasta box and begin to boil.
- Once your mushrooms have cooked, add about 2 cups of the sauce to the skillet and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Watch out — as the hot sauce warms, it may begin to spew.
- Once the pasta is al dente, add it to the pan and coat evenly with sauce and mushrooms.
- Plate your pasta and top it off with chopped cilantro and pumpkin seeds.