Calabaza

COOKING WITH CALABAZA:

Calabaza is a hearty and sweet favorite vegetable of the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.

Good to know
Brooks Tropicals' calabaza are between 8 and 10 lbs. They can be 28" to 34" in circumference.

For every pound of whole calabaza, you will get from one-fourth to one-third of a pound of eatable flesh. For example, a 10 lb. whole calabaza will yield 2.5 to 3.3 lbs. of calabaza flesh for your eating enjoyment.

Recipes will often call for calabaza by weight. This is the weight of the calabaza flesh to be used in the recipe- not the weight of the whole calabaza. For a recipe, 1 lb. of calabaza flesh is equal to 1 1/2 cups of mashed or puréed calabaza flesh.

Nutrtition

This hybrid between a pumpkin and squash is a nutritional powerhouse that's high in vitamins A and C and potassium. Its beautiful reddish-orange interior means calabaza also contains lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin, all of which act as antioxidants in the body.

Calabaza has half the starch of potatoes and only 35 calories per cup. Potatoes need a lot of butter to enjoy, but this is not true of calabaza. It's a great-tasting menu choice for healthy-minded cooks.

Selection
Brooks Tropicals grows a calabaza variety that has a round oblong shape for easy cutting. Select a calabaza that feels heavy for its size and has the stem firmly attached.

You may find them in your grocery store whole or cut into wedges.

Storage
Keep calabaza in a cool dry area before slicing open. Once open, store in airtight containers or bags in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Calabaza can be frozen up to a year.

How to cut open and bake
STEP 1
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

STEP 2
Wash the calabaza; remove the Brooks Tropicals label. Many suggest peeling the calabaza at this point. You'll find it unpeels much easily after baking.

STEP 3
Using a serrated knife, use the edge to make the first cut into the calabaza. Use one of the indentations of the calabaza to steady the knife's edge.

STEP 4
Then, using a thicker-bladed knife, complete the process of cutting around the circumference of the calabaza. Steady the calabaza with a bowl or colander. Avoid cutting through the stem.

STEP 5
The flesh under the top and bottom stems won't bake as readily as the rest of the calabaza. Unless puréeing the calabaza, you may want to cut those small sections out.

STEP 6
With the calabaza cut in half, use a knife to cut around the strings and the flesh. Then use a spoon to scoop out the seed cavity.

STEP 7
Place the cut side of the calabaza down on the cutting board. Slice straight down (not into wedges) to create 2" slices

STEP 8
Using a vegetable peeler, remove any additional strings or seeds from the inside of the slices.

STEP 9
Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange calabaza slices in one layer. Spray calabaza pieces with cooking spray.

STEP 10
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the calabaza pieces and spray with cooking spray. Bake an additional 20 minutes. A roasting pan with wire rack is a great way to cool the calabaza pieces.

STEP 11
Remove from the oven; let cool. The calabaza skin can now be easily peeled with a vegetable peeler, spoon or knife.

STEP 12
The calabaza is ready for chopping or puréeing, as desired.

STEP 13
Store unused calabaza in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, and up to a year if frozen.

For photos, click here.