Say hello to your new favorite fall side dish — roasted carnival squash wedges seasoned with garlic and parmesan cheese. With crispy edges and caramelized fork-tender flesh, this carnival squash recipe is easy to prepare and downright delectable.
It’s that time of year where piles of fun winter squash start to appear and choosing a variety is like the adult version of picking your favorite candy.
My love affair of winter squash is well documented with recipes ranging from perfectly roasted buttercup squash to main dishes like stuffed red kuri squash. A simple browse of the squash category on this site will give you a more in-depth peek into the obsession.
Carnival squash is one I haven’t yet showcased though. Like many of these fun patterned or odd looking winter squashes — looking at you, koginut squash — it’s a hybrid. Carnival squash is a mix between sweet dumpling and acorn squash.
One of my favorite preparations for any winter squash when I’m experimenting with it the first few times, is to simply roast it.
Roasting squash lets you appreciate its innate flavor without other ingredients altering the taste. It’s the true litmus test for whether or not you’ll find the squash tasty.
This roasted carnival squash recipe uses just a couple of select seasonings — garlic and parmesan — to create interest, but in limited quantities to let the flavor of the squash shine.
What does carnival squash look like?
Carnival and sweet dumpling squash can be a bit confusing to decipher. In general, however, the background color of a carnival squash is a pale cream color whereas sweet dumpling leans more on the green side. You’ll find it adorned with speckles of green and orange almost as if someone was splattering paint around the entire outside.
Both are short, squat and ridged in appearance.
What does carnival squash taste like?
You’ll find the flesh of a carnival squash to be subtly sweet but not as much as butternut or honeynut. It leans more towards acorn squash in this area. Some claim it’s sweeter than butternut, but I do not find this to be the case. There’s a pleasing nutty undertone to its flavor that takes well to roasting.
The texture is a nice middle ground. It’s not as dry as kabocha squash so it holds up better when roasting and works well in a variety of other dishes.
Can you eat the skin of carnival squash?
One of the best things about these newer hybrid squash varieties is their edible skin. Unlike acorn squash, whose ridges make it quite difficult to peel, the skin of a carnival squash is entirely edible.
You can simply slice, de-seed, cook and eat! If the skin is still something you’d rather not ingest, it’s easy to scoop the flesh out once cooked and leave the outer peel behind. Don’t attempt peeling the skin before cooking, it’s a fruitless and frustrating process.
Ingredients for roasting carnival squash
There are many ways to roast a winter squash. Butter and maple syrup is one option whereas savory flavors are another. This recipe (like this air fryer spaghetti squash) offers a savory approach with a nutty parmesan topping to complement the similar flavors of the carnival squash.
- 2 carnival squash — cut into wedges
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Salt & pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese — or pecorino Romano (my preference)
How to make roasted carnival squash
Start by preheating the oven to 425°F and lining a large heavy duty baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse the exterior of the squash with cold water to remove any dirt or debris then slice in half. Scoop out the seeds — a grapefruit spoon is the best tool for this — and set them aside because roasted squash seeds are the best seasonal snack. Cut each half into wedges and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Season with the garlic powder and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast at 425°F for about 45 minutes until the squash is fork tender.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of each wedge and return the baking sheet to the oven under the broiler for about 3 minutes until bubbling and starting to turn golden brown.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s easy and hands off — the only real preparation being cutting and seeding the squash.
- Versatility — this side dish pairs just as nicely with a holiday turkey as it does a simpler weeknight meal.
- Adaptable — use this same roasting method and change it up with different seasonings or herbs.
- Edible decor — looking for a stunning seasonal centerpiece on your table? A bowl full of carnival squash is not only more cost effective than those tiny decorative pumpkins and gourds but you can actually eat it too for zero waste.
Other ways to enjoy carnival squash
While roasting is the simplest and purest way to enjoy the true flavor of a carnival squash, just like other winter squashes, there are plenty of additional ways to prepare and use it.
While a smoothie may sound odd, our butternut squash smoothie is creamy, decadent and delicious this time of year. Swap out carnival squash for butternut to enjoy this drink.
Winter squash season and chili season are one in the same, use carnival squash in a chili recipe for added volume or to make a vegetarian chili like this kabocha squash chili recipe.
Make a winter vegetable salad that includes root vegetables and use carnival squash for some added sweetness.
Like almost any winter squash, carnival squash shines in a creamy soup. Take inspiration from this coconut delicata soup or this buttercup squash soup and create a carnival squash soup using your favorite ingredients.
Lastly, the most popular way to enjoy winter squash is by stuffing it. The large deep cavity of a carnival squash makes it perfectly suited for this approach. There are endless options for stuffing winter squash but some of our favorites include the pork and cranberry mixture in this stuffed delicata squash recipe and the apple lentil mixture in this stuffed acorn squash.
If you haven’t already, give roasted carnival squash a try and experiment with different flavors to enjoy this seasonal gem.
If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! I’d love to know how it goes. Leave a comment below if you have any questions. Tag @runningtothekitchen on Instagram & Facebook.
Parmesan Roasted Carnival Squash
- 2 carnival squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Clean the exterior of the squash then cut into wedges, discarding the seeds and pulp.
- Arrange squash on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Roast for 45 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of each piece of squash and return to the oven under a high broil until the cheese melts and starts to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Serve warm and enjoy.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.