Squash Love

This is Chef Julie Francis’ Pan Fried Kabocha Squash with Black Bean Quinoa & Wheat Berry Salad with Mustard Greens and Miso Vinaigrette.
By Ilene Ross – Photos by Gina Weathersby

Our request for an orange vegetable dish from Chef Francis couldn’t have come at a better time. She had already been working on a vegetarian dish for Nectar, and as luck would have it, it featured the beautiful Kabocha, her favorite squash. “Kabocha has a warm, nutty flavor that I love, and the texture is very dense and meaty, something that’s really important in a vegetarian dish,” says Chef Francis. The squash is accompanied by a very hearty salad composed of kale, Oyster mushrooms, and sweet potatoes, mixed with black beans, quinoa, and wheat berries, a combination which provides the vegetarian diet with much needed protein.  Chili gives a light, yet a welcome burst of heat, and the salad is then sprinkled with toasted Kabocha seeds. The mustard greens are blanched and tossed with miso vinaigrette. Chef Francis loves working with all of these bold, warm flavors that she says, “keeps you going when it gets cold out.”

The Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash. Also known as Japanese Pumpkin, this squat, green specimen is fairly new in the U.S. scene, but it’s well worth seeking out. The Kabocha contains an abundance of beta carotene, along with vitamin C, iron, and potassium. It’s also a good source of folic acid, calcium, and trace B vitamins. We like our Kabocha roasted, and as we learned from Chef Francis, the peel is totally edible, and delicious. What a time saver!

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Squash Love

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  • Author: Ilene Ross
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1lb. Kabocha squash, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch wedges. ?2T vegetable oil?, 1T sesame oil, ?sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • 1C cooked quinoa
  • 1C cooked black beans
  • ?1C cooked spelt
  • ?2T golden miso
  • 1/2t Chimayo chili powder
  • ?1t fresh ginger, minced
  • 1t garlic, minced
  • 1T roasted sesame seeds
  • ?1/3C rice wine vinegar
  • ?½lb organic mustard greens
  • ?1T Umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 2C walnuts?1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4T olive oil
  • ?1T smoked paprika?salt and pepper to taste


  1. Sauté squash in vegetable and sesame oil on medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and caramelized, and cooked through. You can add a splash of water to steam if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk miso, chili, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and vinegar together. Combine quinoa, black beans, and spelt, toss with miso dressing.
  3. Steam mustard greens, season with Umeboshi plum vinegar.
  4. Blanch walnuts in boiling water, drain and repeat. Sauté red onions in 2T olive oil on low until caramelized.
  5. In food processor, combine walnuts, 2T olive oil, onions, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
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