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calabaza

Pronunciation: [kah-lah-BAH-sah]

A pumpkinlike squash popular throughout the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. The calabaza, which is also called West Indian pumpkin, is round in shape and can range in size from as large as a watermelon to as small as a cantaloupe. Its skin can range in color from green to pale tan to light red-orange; its flesh is a brilliant orange. Calabaza has a sweet flavor akin to that of butternut squash; its texture is firm and succulent. It can be found in chunks throughout the year in Latin markets. Choose cut pieces with fresh, moist, tightly grained flesh with no signs of soft or wet spots. If you can find whole calabaza, look for those that are unblemished and heavy for their size; the stem should still be attached. Whole calabaza can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 6 weeks. Cut calabaza should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for no more than a week. Calabaza may be used in any way suitable for winter squashes like acorn squash and butternut.