Easy Kabocha Squash and Collard Greens with Whole Wheat Rotini

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Here is a quick entree you can make with some fresh fall produce: kabocha squash and collard greens: great finds from your local farmers’ market. This is a quick vegetable sauté with whole wheat pasta. The kabocha squash was an exciting find from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box, but I have also made it with butternut squash.

More About CSAs

If you are trying to eat more nutritious foods, it is a lot of fun to try a CSA or home-delivered produce boxes. With a CSA, you are supporting local farmers: who you may even meet at a market or work with (some programs have a work option or requirement). The food has traveled the shortest distance: saving “food miles” and some vitamins which are lost with longer exposure to air.

Then there are both local and national home-delivered produce boxes. These have many options: organic or conventional, whether or not you can customize your boxes, and if you can add on extra items. Some help to rescue foods that are not quite right to sell to supermarkets: they may be the wrong size but are otherwise perfectly good.

I like the surprise of unknown fresh fruits and veggies. And as you can see, the kabocha squash was a hit. The turnips and beets, not so much.

What is Kabocha Squash?

First, let’s talk about kabocha squash. Kabocha is a winter squash with a beautiful variegated deep green color. It is also called Japanese pumpkin.

Several orange and green whole kabocha squash
Photo: Hans Braxmeier, Pixabay.

Ingredients Needed

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Collard greens – or kale, broccoli rabe, spinach, or Swiss chard
  • Kabocha squash – or you can use butternut, acorn, or other winter squash
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Seasonings: dried basil, black pepper, and salt
  • Almonds – or walnuts or pecans

How to Make Kabocha Squash and Collard Greens with Whole Wheat Rotini


For the kabocha squash, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds with a tablespoon. Place it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven at 400°F for about an hour or until it’s tender. Acorn, butternut, or delicata squash could be used in place of kabocha squash.

Next, wash the collard greens: these can be gritty. To clean them well, fill up a large bowl or pot with cool water. Dip them in, swirl them around, and pull them out. The dirt should remain in the bottom of the bowl or pot.

Broccoli rabe would be terrific also and is made in the same way with a quick pre-boil. You could substitute baby kale or spinach for the collard greens, and there is no need to pre-cook them.

Boiling vegetables is not ideal, because some of the water-soluble vitamins will be lost in the water. Try to use the cooking water in another dish such as soup or a casserole.

I chose whole wheat pasta for its fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and heartier texture. Rotini is my favorite because it holds onto the sauce well. You can use any type of pasta you like or gluten-free pasta.

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats. Substitute avocado, peanut, or canola oil if you wish.

Not only is this delicious, but it is also beneficial for nutrients like fiber, beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), and calcium. There is a little bitterness in the collards, which contrasts well with the sweetness of the squash. Also, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper brightens up the flavor.

How to Store this Dish

This meal freezes well if you make extra. It is also great for meal prep: make a few servings for lunches or dinners ahead of a busy week.

More Recipes you May Enjoy

There are lots of types of winter squash. They are a great source of beta-carotene and other nutrients.

Here are some cooking tips for more varieties:


Kabocha Squash and Collard Greens with Whole Wheat Rotini

Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
Easy and flavorful vegan pasta dish with kabocha squash and fresh collard greens. Whole wheat rotini adds extra nutrients and fiber.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 2
Calories 318 kcal


  • Small frying pan


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup onions chopped
  • cup collard greens chop and boil first for 5 minutes
  • 1⅓ cup winter squash: cooked, peeled, and cubed kabocha, butternut, or acorn
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta cooked
  • teaspoon dried basil
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • dash salt
  • 8 almonds chopped


  • Heat the oil in a small pan on medium heat for 30 seconds.
  • Next, add onion, then garlic, and stir occasionally for 2 minutes.
  • Add greens, squash, pasta, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Cover and turn heat to low.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes or until the squash is hot.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and top with chopped almonds.


The nutrition estimate is from Spoonacular, which is based mainly on the USDA database.


Calories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 11gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 32mgPotassium: 527mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1661IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Collard greens, Pasta, Vegan, Winter squash
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Have you tried this Easy Kabocha Squash and Collard Greens with Whole Wheat Rotini? Please let me know in the comments how you liked it:

Original post: 10/16/2018. Updated 1/30/23

4 thoughts on “Easy Kabocha Squash and Collard Greens with Whole Wheat Rotini”

  1. 5 stars
    A good squash makes all the difference. It’s a shame their so hard to get hold of. We grow uchiki kuri which is another Japanese pumpkin. It’s delicious, but we’re not always successful.

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