Occasionally, I will run across something that is surprisingly likable. That means, really, that I am surprised that I actually like it. Today’s post is one of those surprises: the Calabaza. The pronunciation here is with the Spanish “th” where the “z” is placed, so it rolls off the tongue as “calaBAtha,” a word that you could perhaps slip into your daily conversation.
Gentle readers, this term is most often translated as “pumpkin,” but don’t be fooled. This is much closer to a squash than a pumpkin, and is often cut in half and baked for several hours before being scooped out and served. After all, most of the pumpkins that American eyes see are round jack-o-lantern pumpkins or the cooking variety of “sugar” pumpkins. Both are round and orange, in contrast to the much flatter and often green-skinned calabaza. (Did you say it right? If not, practice it right now!)
This vegetable can be made into savory or sweet dishes. I have had it in a scalloped “sweet potato” casserole in place of the potatoes, in a burrito, in a purée in place of a tomato sauce with a flavorful cheese as a perfect complement, as a baked half-pumpkin purchased at a local horno that cooks take-away meals, and in my latest find: Calabaza marmelade.
When I saw it on the shelf at the grocery store, I knew it had to be mine. I was right… this stuff is amazing. On toast complemented by sweet mandarinas, I hit the breakfast jackpot.
P.S. I dare you to say calabaza to someone in the next 10 minutes. If you leave a comment, mention calabaza and it will be a special moment between us. Seriously.