I know, I know … I just laughed at the Buzzfeed article that made fun of bloggers getting into pumpkin too early, and I said it doesn’t feel like Fall yet … but I gave into peer pressure! I was seeing kabocha squash ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE!! My regular grocery store didn’t have it … which made it even more of a challenge! Good thing for me (and for you, if you make the recipe I’m about to share with you!), I did end up finding it, and it was just as delicious as I thought it would be.
What is kabocha squash, you might ask? Well, it’s also called Japanese pumpkin, and (to me) it seems most like a combination between a pumpkin and an acorn squash. It’s naturally very buttery and sweet, but still very healthy! It’s loaded with beta carotene, iron, fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, and only has about 40 calories and 4g sugar per cup (despite the sweet, buttery taste!). The only downfalls: it’s somewhat hard to find (I couldn’t get it in Albertson’s or my Farmer’s Market, but could get it at Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Kroger), and it’s a bit hard to cut into and use. But it’s definitely worth it … so let’s dive into a recipe!
Fall Chicken and Kabocha Casserole
This warm, comforting, cheesy casserole has a hearty, satisfying flavor and a hint of sweetness. It’s a perfect introduction to Fall flavors, but won’t leave you feeling overly full or weighed down. It’s very easy to prepare (once you prep the squash!), and you’ll never even think about the fact that you’re getting 2-3 servings of veggies as you savor it! If you can’t find kabocha, I’m sure you could sub acorn or butternut squash, and if you prefer to avoid chicken, I bet a chicken substitute, some cannelini beans, or maybe even tofu, would work well!
Serves 3 (big portions!)
- 2 cups kabocha flesh (I’ll tell you how to prepare it below)
- 8 ounces (raw) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 3 cups kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1.5 cup cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1.5 cup broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 cup egg substitute (or 3 beaten eggs)
- 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1t olive oil
- 1t cinnamon
- 1t rosemary, dried
- 1/2t salt
- 1t pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (could sub regular breadcrumbs if preferred)
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Lightly season chicken breasts (I used a bit of salt, pepper, and rosemary) and place in glass baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until barely done. (Do not overcook, because you will bake them again in the casserole!)
- With a sharp knife, poke 3-5 holes through the skin of your kabocha (important so it doesn’t explode!), and microwave the whole thing for 3-5 minutes. This will help soften it up just a little bit so you can cut through.
- Chop your kabocha into quarters, and scrape out the seeds (just like a pumpkin). Cut kabocha flesh (you can eat the skin, but I didn’t for this recipe) into bite-sized pieces, until you have about 2 cups. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add broccoli, cauliflower, kabocha, kale, salt, pepper, rosemary, and cinnamon, and saute 5 more minutes until just starting to get tender.
- Meanwhile, when chicken breasts are done, chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Remove skillet (with vegetables) from heat. Add in chicken pieces, ricotta cheese, and egg substitute. Stir well and pour into baking dish sprayed with cooking spray (I used a 1.5-quart dish).
- Combine parmesan and panko breadcrumbs, and sprinkle mixture on top of casserole filling. Don’t skip this part – it gives a little cheesy crisp that is to die for!
- Bake casserole for 20-25 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown.
- Serve alone or with roasted veggies (because you can never have enough!).
If made according to this recipe for 3 servings, each serving will have 307 calories, 4g fat, 27g carbs, and 34g protein.
So tell me in the comments … have you ever tried (or even seen) kabocha squash? Are you still enjoying summer flavors, or are you ready to transition to fall flavors? Are the nutrition stats on my recipes helpful, or would you rather not see them?