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The Main Ingredient: Squash/Pumpkin (Kalabasa)

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

By Marietta Pangan

October of every year in Canada is much awaited month for two significant events: Thanksgiving and Halloween. Beyond these holidays, this one food is a must-have and the star of the show because Squash/Pumpkin (Kalabasa) is considered a versatile vegetable. It is widely used because its nutritional content and economic value fit every budget.

The popularity of squash has made it a daily household menu of arid dishes such as soup, vegetables, stews and even desserts. Pumpkins are very much like squash. They have the same botanical classifications but differ in size, shape and colour. These two hardy veggies are being used interchangeably, although the former is considered a fruit in the Western world and Europe. Both pumpkins and squash vary significantly in colour: Bright green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and even gray. Even though the origin of the word pumpkin “pepon” came from the Greeks, which means “large melon,” it is not definite that it came from Greece but is believed to originate from North America.

Pumpkins/Squash are grown worldwide for various reasons: agricultural (feed), ornamental (Thanksgiving and Halloween), commercial and of course as food. They grow abundantly in Europe, Mexico, Southern and Western Hemisphere, Asia (including The Philippines),d all seven continents, except Antarctica.

As for medicinal/herbal remedies and use, squash is believed to aid in healing boils and ulcers, while shoots aid in reducing kidney stones. The seeds, if eaten fresh, can serve as an anti-inflammatory or even anti-helminthic “pampurga” for children, to name a few.

The yellow colour of the pumpkin/squash fleshy meat and pulp is derived from the abundant orange pigments. All varieties contain many nutrients, such as lutein and alpha and beta carotene, which generate vitamin A in the human body. The shoots and flowers also contain calcium, phosphorus and iron, while seeds are high in protein and zinc. Squash and pumpkins, in general, are fully loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are both excellent sources of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus. They are also an excellent source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, not to mention that they are low in saturated fat. Last but not least, they are deficient in cholesterol and sodium. The table below contains detailed nutrient contents of squash and pumpkins.


SWEET: Layered Pumpkin Royale(Sapin- Sapin)

Fruit, vegetable dessert in one plate and all macronutrients Carbohydrate, Protein Fats plus vitamins and minerals in one dish** My signature recipe: imagine having three dishes in one. What a fantastic combination.


  • 2 cups sweet rice flour

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup purple yam, boiled, grated

  • 1 cup pumpkin, baked, pureed

  • ½ cup coconut strings ( makapuno), pureed

  • 1 ¾ cup coconut milk ( 1 -400ml can)

  • Food colourings: purple (Ube) Colouring)

  • Non-stick butter spray

  • Desiccated coconut ( Optional) for toppings

  • Cheese (Optional) for toppings


  1. Pour rice flour, sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Divide equally into three separate smaller bowls.

  2. In the first bowl, add purple yam and purple colouring. Blend until smooth—spray mould ( llanera) with non-stick butter spray. Add mixture about 1/3 in the container. Steam for 10-15 minutes.

  3. In the next bowl, add puree pumpkin and yellow colouring. Blend until smooth. Add on top of the purple yam once set. Steam for another 10 minutes.

  4. In the last bowl, add coconut strings and green colour. Pour on top of the set, squash and steam for 10 minutes. Blend until well distributed.

Cooldown and unmold. Pour roasted desiccated coconut or cheese if desired.

Yield: 24 servings


SAVOURY: Squash Fritters (Ukoy Kalabasa)


  • 1 cup pumpkin, julienne cut (gayatin)

  • 1cup sweet potato- julienne cut (gayatin)

  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion

  • ½ cup Shrimps deveined sliced in half

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying


  • 1 clove minced garlic

  • 1Tbsp fish sauce

  • 1Tbsp Mirin Sauce ( Japanese sauce)

  • 2 Tbsps Rice wine vinegar

  • 1 small red chili pepper/ or 1 Tbsp chili garlic paste

  • *Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside


1. combine egg, flour, baking powder, baking soda, curry powder, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well blended. Add pumpkin, kamote and shrimps. Mix all ingredients.

2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 375 F. Drop batter by large spoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and fry the other side until golden brown.

3. Remove with a slotted spoon, pat dry.

4. Serve with sauce while hot

Yield: 6-8 servings

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