Kabocha Squash Dippers

Winter is the season of appetizers, isn't it? Between holiday gatherings, game day get-togethers, Superbowl parties, and generally being indoors more, I feel like all I'm doing is making comforting finger food.

Today I want to introduce you to a really simple, delicious, veggie-forward appetizer: these roasted kabocha squash "dippers". They're just as satisfying as dunking chips, but way more nourishing. I don't eat meat, but I guess the most appropriate analogy is that they're sort of like wings (??) in that they're big, hearty, and begging to be slathered with your favorite dip.

Roast up a big pan of these and you'll be set for all your fall and winter gatherings. You can easily cut the squash and prep your dips in advance, then just roast the squash half an hour before your guests are going to arrive. These are hot, filling, infinitely customizable, and are sure to be a hit.

In terms of flavors, the sky is the limit. Basically, you have three opportunities here to infuse flavor. My suggestion is to capitalize on all three, and to find a flavor profile that makes sense together. You can infuse flavor through (1) spicing the squash, (2) garnishing the squash after roasting, and (3) choosing one or a few dips to pair with it.

By spicing, I mean whatever spices (in addition to salt and pepper) you want to roast the squash in. And by garnishing, I mean whatever fresh items you want to add at the end, including herbs, citrus, nuts, or seeds. For the dip(s), go crazy!

Here are a few ideas to get you started, but you can really borrow flavors from any culture, dish, or event you can imagine.

Mexican-inspired: Roast in chili powder and cumin, garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, serve with salsa and/or guacamole (as pictured here)
Middle eastern-inspired: Roast in za'atar and lemon zest, garnish with sumac, sesame seeds, and pistachios, serve with hummus and/or tzatziki (also pictured here)
Holiday-inspired: Roast in rosemary and thyme, garnish with chopped pecans, serve with cranberry sauce
Thai-inspired: Roast in fresh garlic and ginger, garnish with fresh cilantro and salty peanuts, serve with soy sauce and/or sweet and sour sauce
Italian-inspired: Roast in garlic and oregano, garnish with Parmesan and/or almonds, serve with pesto and/or marinara sauce
Burger-inspired: Roast in generous salt and pepper, garnish with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions, serve with ketchup and mustard
Wing-inspired: Roast in cayenne and butter, garnish with hot sauce, serve with Ranch and veggie sticks

As you can see above, this is such a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish. You can make it to fit just about any occasion and any dietary needs. Because of that, I've found myself making this again and again throughout the fall and winter. I love that these squash dippers are way more nutritious than many classic appetizers, and I love how delicious and cozy they are.

I'm already excited for my next opportunity to make these!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Looking for another veggie-forward game day food? Brussel Sprout Nachos and Margarita Cauliflower are my absolute favorite.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Kabocha squash(es). Or use red kuri squash, which is really similar. I'd assume that one squash will feed 3-5 people as an appetizer, although it will depend on the size of the squash.
  • Oil of choice for roasting
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • Spices of choice. See ideas above; this is a great opportunity for flavoring the squash.
  • Garnishes of choice. I like to add a pop of freshness, like some chopped herbs. Something crunchy is also nice, like some seeds or chopped nuts.
  • Dips! Anything you think will be awesome, or maybe a few. Options could include salsa, guac, queso, hot sauce, aioli, hummus, etc.
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Cut the kabocha squash(es) in half through its stem (i.e. perpendicular to its equator) and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Flip each half open side downward and cut even wedges. The most important thing is to keep all the wedges approximately the same thickness so they cook evenly. I like to cut each half into 8-12 pieces in order to make munchie-sized portions, but there's really no single right way to do this.
  4. Lay the squash wedges on a well-oiled sheet tray, making sure they all have full contact with the tray, which will create delicious browning. Salt and pepper them generously.
  5. Roast the squash wedges for ~25-40 minutes until soft. Keep an eye on them, since their cooking time will depend on how thickly you cut the wedges. You want them delightfully tender, but coherent enough to be dipped.
  6. If you want to spice the roasting squash, my preference is to do so about ten minutes before the end of the baking time; this will ensure that the spices don't burn. If you want to go that route, wait until the squash is tender but not completely done and sprinkle liberally with whatever spice blend you choose, then return it to the oven for 5-10 minutes to toast the spices.
  7. When the squash is finished, arrange the wedges on a serving platter with a bowl or a few bowls of your favorite dip(s). I suggest salting them again at this point for added depth of flavor.
  8. Garnish the squash with something fresh and/or crunchy and serve.


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