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Pistachio-Dusted Kabocha Squash: Let Thanksgiving Begin!

When I was in the 5th grade, my grandpa came to live with my family. At the time, I thought it might be temporary, but by the time I got to high school, it started to feel like forever. I wasn’t always so appreciative of him being around all the time. Some days, I felt like he was just lurking around when all I wanted was some privacy. While other kids’ parents were at work, I always had a third parent around. Over the years, he chaperoned my parties and literary magazine production nights, and helped fuel my crafting addiction by making me stuff like an Indian beading machine. I wish I had a picture of it. One time, he helped push me into the house through the bathroom window when the two of us got locked out of the house while my parents were at work. Wow, there are so many stories I could tell you about our relationship, and they wouldn’t even be the half of it! The other day, Matt and I had him and my dad over for dinner. My grandpa took a look at Matt’s record player and then proceeded to tell him about how much technology has evolved. In fact, he had built his own record player back in the day.

Unlike my grandpa, I can hardly build anything. There was that one time I put together an Ikea dresser all by myself. It took me all of 5 hours, and by the time I was done — soaked in sweat — I swore the labor wasn’t worth the savings. Cooking is my way of building things. And while putting together furniture makes me want to die, spending all day preparing a meal makes me feel totally content. Good thing there’s a holiday for people like me. It’s called Thanksgiving, and it’s just a few weeks away.

I don’t particularly love turkey, stuffing, or any form of pumpkin pie. But, man, I love Thanksgiving. On that one glorious day, turkey with cranberry sauce tastes like the best thing in the world. And sweating away in the kitchen feels like a communal activity; I know so many others are doing the same thing. I’m sure many of you have already started thinking about Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d share a special little side dish that I think would be a nice addition to your table/potluck. Kabocha squash is just a type of pumpkin (not the type you see in the lead photo — that’s a delicata squash — another favorite), except it’s even sweeter. When roasted, it becomes really tender, and I find it to be particularly delicious tossed with some warm spices. The pistachio ‘dust’ is really just a hearty sprinkle of pulverized pistachios; it not only adds beautiful color, but also plays off the sweetness of the squash.

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving: you prep and prep and all of a sudden, everyone’s passed out on the couch in a food coma. That said, there is something so utterly beautiful about this holiday that makes me feel so American.

Pistachio-Dusted Kabocha Squash

*serves 3-4

1 kabocha squash
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of olive oil (approximately)
freshly ground pepper and salt
1/4 cup of pistachios, ground finely

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the kabocha squash in half and then continue cutting into 1 inch slices. After you’ve sliced up the squash, cut away the skin and cut the flesh into cubes.
2. Combine the squash, spices, oil salt and a pepper in a medium bowl. Toss to coat.
3. Lay the squash, in one layer, on a lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes (until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork).
4. Put the squash in a bowl and add the pistachios. Gently toss to coat and then transfer to a serving platter.

Musical Pairings: Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature + Pistachio-Dusted Kabocha Squash

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Yum! The pistachios look so pretty. Thanks for the recipe. I’m collecting Thanksgiving ideas in my head – like you I’ll be one of the ones in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about kabocha squash lately but have yet to see any around here! If it’s as good as it looks, I’ll have to hunt some down. I’ve honestly never been much of a fan of Thanksgiving food. I never learned to like turkey or stuffing or plates covered in beige food, but that squash dish looks right up my alley. My friends and I have a yearly tradition of cooking a big Thanksgiving meal together, which is happening next Sunday. I can’t wait!

  • Pingback: Pistachio-Dusted Kabocha Squash: Let Thanksgiving Begin … | Thanksgiving 2011()

  • What a fantastic dish for the Thanksgiving table! I love the flavors- sweet squash, cinnamon, earthy cumin, and pistachio. My husband is an immigrant to this country, and like you, he absolutely loves Thanksgiving. His passion for it makes me laugh. If I forget one traditional side he lets me know and I have to scramble to make it right or there will be serious disappointment.

  • Meganjgordon

    O.k. some combinations I just would never think of and, therefore, find genius. This is one of them! I’ve got a butternut squash from the farmers market and going to try this tonight, Kasey. Thank you! xx

  • Nicole @cookingafterfive

    I do love turkey, but sides can definitely steal the show. Love the pistachios. I’ll have to try this! And I totally worked on my high school literary magazine, too. Editor-in-chief for two years. 🙂

  • All the cool kids did 😉 I was poetry editor! Can’t wait to see what you’re cooking this Thanksgiving!

  • Oh man, you are too sweet, M. You’ll have to let me know how the butternut does. Can’t wait for Thanksgiving get-togethers. xo

  • I dare say that us immigrants might love Thanksgiving more than Americans! I am pretty averse to some of the ‘super traditional’ stuff like marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, but everything else..bring it!

  • My friends and I have the same tradition! It’s the best. I’ve been thinking about what to make for our potluck this year and this dish might just be it…

  • Perfect! And I agree, the green pistachios make things look MUCH prettier.

  • Pingback: Craving > Roasted Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili | foodiecrush()

  • It sounds like your grandfather was a really important presence in your life. You’re lucky to have had such a handy guy around – a guy that built his own record player! Wow!
    I’m on board with Thanksgiving love. People assume I don’t like this holiday because I don’t eat meat but seriously, who cares about the meat? Give me kabocha squash! Oh, and pistachios are my absolute favorite nut!

  • Roasted squash is definitely my choice for a Thanksgiving side. I like the addition of pistachios with the cinnamon and cumin.

  • I LOVE kabocha squash and love the idea of adding pistachios for a super crunch and lovely colour. I’m already missing Thanksgiving, so I might have to add a 2nd one since I think that’s the only way to do it up right!

  • Thank you, Sylvie! I, too, love squash at Thanksgiving 🙂

  • Rachel, he was and still is (rockin’ his 80s). He’s a character worth knowing for sure. As for the meat, it’s hardly ever the most memorable part of Thanksgiving for me 🙂

  • There is no reason to NOT celebrate twice! Do it! Maybe I should start celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving, too…

  • Curious

    Ok, what am I missing……the ingredients call for 1/4 C olive oil, but the oil is not mentioned in the preparation steps……at what point do you add the oil?

  • Thanks for pointing out – you toss the squash with the oil, along with the spices.

  • leigh

    Hi, I recently had Kabocha Squash roasted then topped with Chimmichurri Sauce and Feta. I was Sold! Your recipe sounds perfect for Thanksgiving, thank you! Do you think I could prep the squash and marinade it overnight in this mixture then roast prior to dinner?

  • Hi Leigh, that sounds yummy! Personally, I wouldn’t let it sit overnight because I suspect it might get a little mushy, and the spices might infuse it a little *too* strongly, but I think you could probably cut up the squash the night before and then toss with the spices right before it goes in the oven.

  • leigh

    Thank you, Kasey! I can’t wait to try this. The chimichurri/feta was great but yours sounds really nice for Thanksgiving. Enjoy your holiday!

  • I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner this year, and it was incredible! Thanks.

  • That is so great! I am so glad it made it to your Thanksgiving table and you enjoyed it.

  • Paul Santino

    I picked up this squash because I thought it looked nice as a decorative accent around the holidays. I decided to try to cook it tonight, and came across this recipe. All I can say is WOW!!! Because the squash had sat around for a month or so, it looked a little dry, so after cutting it up into pieces I soaked it in water for about 45 minutes to try to moisten it a bit. I drained out the water and followed the recipe. My squash was a small one, maybe 2.5 pounds or so, and it was just SOOOO good! This recipe is what I call a “keeper”, and it will be sure to be included in next Thanksgiving’s menu and whenever else I can find an excuse to make this simple dish! 😀

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