Kalabasa / Winter Squash


An absolute staple in our kitchen is kalabasa or a winter squash. Most hard-shelled squashes, which are apparently a fruit related to more luscious and juicy cousins, the melons, kala2are referred to as Winter Squashes, even if they grow all year round. This highly economical, highly nutritious and pleasantly tasting fruit/vegetable is incredibly versatile and we use it in soups, baked with brown sugar, fried in tempura batter, in coconut milk bases dishes, or in pinakbet. I featured a fancier shaped, close relative of kalabasa, many e-eons ago and you may want to refer to it here for more scientific name and other detailed information. I am posting a photo of my kalabasa here as I am about to make a huge pot of pinakbet and I wanted to make sure I had covered all of the basic ingredients in the blog entries first. Rich in vitamin A (the orange beta carotene factor…), potassium and fiber, kalabasa is something that we should all eat at least once a week or so…


8 Responses

  1. My grandma used to make ukoy with grated kalabasa and topped with whole unpeeled shrimps. I had all but forgotten about it until your post. She used to make a mean pinakbet too. I sure miss her cooking. Thanks!

  2. yes, marilou, ukoy kalabasa is a favorite in my house, too. iput chopped spring onions in the batter for falvor and color contrast. we also love cream of squash soup, and anything with kalabasa. MM, i’ll be watching for your pinakbet recipe -it’s something i can’t do properly. my friend’s ilocana cook does a very good pinakbet that it’s the most requested dish during potlucks.

  3. My absolute favorite…kalabasa! For such vitamin packed vegetable, it’s sad that it was given a negative meaning as in “nangalabasa” or “kalabasa in class”. Is it because it is slow to grow or seems to be left behind by its stem due to its heavy weight?…hmmm. My kids and I love squash soup with a little cream and croutons!

  4. Pardon my ignorance Marketman, but could you explain the difference between kalabasa (squash) and pumpkin? Do we have pumpkins in the Philippines? And could “pumpkin soup”, which is served in restaurants here, be made using kalabasa? Thanks! :)

  5. Sauteed kalabasa with young kalabasa talbos with shripm and bagoong is fabulous. This version holds well too with the addition of virgin coconut milk for extra layer of flavor!

  6. Hi MM,

    I agree with Cindy. I’m confused between the pumpkin and the kalabasa. Are both the same? As I can find both here in Jakarta but usually I make butternut squash soup more often than i do with pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is great too hehe. thanks for your info in advanced.


  7. Hi Cindy and Joy, both kalabasa and pumpkin are considered “winter squashes” or better described as squashes with harder skins and which keep for quite a while. There are dozens of different winter squashes including kalabasa, kabocha, butternut squash and pumpkins…they differ in fiber content, stringyness, sweetness, water content, intensity of flavor, etc. but they are somewhat similar… depending on how you use them, they can sometimes substitute for each other…a pumpkin soup, for example seems to work well with our kalabasa because of the the addition of spices, cream and the fact that it is pureed and blended. However, a roasted butternut squash with some butter and say cinammon tastes better to me than our kalabasa cooked in the same way. Summer squashes include say zucchini, yellow squashes, etc. and these are not as hardy as winter squashes and seem to have a much higher water content. Last October I came across some western style pumpkins which were grown locally by the Dole company…I had a post on them here. I cooked some of these pumpkins into an agrodolce dish which was essentially a sweet and sour treatment…they were pretty good…

  8. My family loves squash! I cook it with sitao and okra, sometimes I add coconut milk. I don’t put it in pinakbet though. The kids like them mashed and mixed in with hot rice. I sometimes add some boiled squash with mashed potatoes. My personal favorite is ukoy with squash dipped in vinegar and chopped shallots.



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