This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about how to cook a Balsamic and Fennel Roasted Carnival Squash!
The first time I laid eyes on a carnival squash it stopped me in my tracks. I had never seen a squash like this before and was totally intrigued!
Of course I had to take one home with me and try it out. I now have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this squash. Mostly love though 😅. Please don't let that put you off of trying carnival squash and developing your own relationship with this wonderful fruit (yes, it's a fruit)!
What is Carnival Squash?
Carnival squash is a relatively new hybrid between acorn squash and sweet dumpling squash. It has a striking looking skin, typically with colors of orange, yellow/cream, and green. I have read in this article from SpecialtyProduce.com that the colors of the skin vary according to temperature variations in the seasons.
The patterns in the skin vary, and it seems like there are no two carnival squash that are alike!
This beautiful squash's skin is quite thick, and believe it or not the skin is edible.
Carnival squash is delicious. The taste of the squash is buttery and creamy, and also somewhat nutty and sweet with a hint of maple syrup.
You will see this squash in your grocery stores and farmer's markets in the autumn and the winter.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
This recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver in his book "Jamie at Home." In this book, he describes cooking squash with fennel and balsamic vinegar (amongst some other spices). This sounded so FAB to me that I absolutely had to try these spices with my newfound carnival squash!
You will love this recipe because:
- It's absolutely delicious. The spices and balsamic really enhance the natural flavors of this squash, as does roasting.
- We will roast this squash, which brings out the best in this fruit!
- It's an interesting experience to work with this squash. I'll explain more later. 😃
So if you're up for this, let's discuss what ingredients you will need for this dish.
This recipe uses absolutely FAB ingredients! You will need:
- Carnival squash (approximately 2 pounds)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ ts salt
- ¼ ts pepper
- ¼ ts cayenne
- ¼ ts cinnamon
- ½-3/4 ts fennel seeds
- Balsamic vinegar to taste
You may be thinking that this is an odd combination of spices, but believe me it is delicious!
Begin by preheating your oven to 425F.
I had mentioned earlier that I have a love/hate relationship with this squash. Allow me to explain the hate part. This has to do with cutting through the tough skin. The first time I cooked with the carnival squash, getting through the skin was hard, but not too bad. The second time I worked with this squash, I had a full blown workout! 😅 So my top tip is to take a deep breath before you start cutting into the squash 😊.
Cutting Into The Squash
Place the squash on a level surface and please take care with your knife and watch your fingers. The easiest way to do this is start by cutting off each end. Then, take your knife and cut the squash in two halves, as seen below. It may be easier to slide your knife into the squash as much as you can, then remove the knife and use your hands to pry the halves apart.
Ok that is the hardest part! Hopefully it wasn't too bad for you! Now, scoop out the seeds and the pith, and then slice the squash into wedges. I recommend saving the seeds for roasting as they are delicious!
Once you have cut the squash into wedges, you can place them in a large bowl or in your roasting pan. Now pour over the olive oil. Then add the seasonings which include the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, cayenne, and cinnamon. Toss to coat the wedges in the seasonings and the olive oil.
If you placed the squash in a large bowl, now transfer it to a roasting pan. Roast at 425F for around 30-40 minutes, turning the wedges over halfway through the cooking time. Your goal is to roast the squash until it is fork tender, and a bit browned and caramelized. Once you have achieved this, remove the squash from your oven.
The last step is to add the balsamic vinegar. The amount of balsamic you add is completely up to you. I like to add quite a bit as I just LOVE the flavor that it imparts to the carnival squash.
Enjoy Your Delicious Roasted Carnival Squash!
Your squash is now ready to enjoy! My personal preference is that I taste fennel and balsamic vinegar in every mouthful of this squash. If you are like me, then by all means you can add additional fennel seeds or balsamic to the dish along with any more salt or pepper to your tastes.
You'll love the nutty, buttery, creamy and sweet taste of this carnival squash, enhanced by our seasonings and balsamic vinegar. It's an unforgettable flavor sensation! You'll enjoy the taste so much that you won't even remember the toil of getting through the tough skin when preparing the squash. 😁
This squash makes a great side dish and it's worthy of including it as a Thanksgiving side dish.
I'll close with discussing whether to eat the skin or not. The skin is edible. However...if the squash is not cooked long enough the skin may be way too hard and tough for your liking. Even after 30-40 minutes of roasting, my husband's preference is to leave the skin and just eat the flesh.
But I like to enjoy the skin, as long as it's soft enough. It's worth trying though, and all a part of the carnival squash experience!
Carnival squash is a relatively new hybrid between acorn squash and sweet dumpling squash.
The skin of the carnival squash is edible. However, if the squash is not cooked long enough the skin may be way too hard and tough. It's worth trying though!
It takes around 30-40 minutes to bake carnival squash wedges in a 425F oven.
Some Other Side Dish Recipes You May Enjoy!
Here are some other side dishes you may enjoy:
- How To Roast Carnival Squash Seeds
- Elegant White Asparagus Side Dish
- Roasted Broccoli With Parmesan
- Easy and Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Join Me On A Fun Food Journey!
I invite you to come along on this food journey with me! Please sign up to get the latest recipes and inspiration for you to expand your food comfort zone! It's an incredible journey, please join me by signing up here.
Balsamic and Fennel Roasted Carnival Squash
- 1 roasting pan or tray
- 1 carnival squash approximately 2 lbs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ ts salt plus additional to taste
- ¼ ts pepper plus additional to taste
- ¼ ts cayenne
- ¼ ts cinnamon
- ¾ ts fennel seeds you can increase or decrease this amount to suit your tastes
- Balsamic vinegar to taste
- Begin by preheating your oven to 425F.
- Place the squash on a level surface and please take care with your knife and watch your fingers. The easiest way to do this is start by cutting off each end. Then, take your knife and cut the squash in two halves. It may be easier to slide your knife into the squash as much as you can, then remove the knife and use your hands to pry the halves apart.
- Scoop out the seeds and the pith. Save the seeds for roasting if you like.
- Slice the squash into wedges, then them in a large bowl or in your roasting pan. Now pour over the olive oil. Then add the seasonings which include the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, cayenne, and cinnamon. Toss to coat the wedges in the seasonings and the olive oil.
- Roast at 425F for around 30-40 minutes, turning the wedges over halfway through the cooking time. Your goal is to roast the squash until it is fork tender, and a bit browned and caramelized. Once you have achieved this, remove the squash from your oven and add balsamic vinegar to taste.