Japanese pasta salad with roasted kabocha

There is SO much I want to say about this Japanese pasta salad and also I don’t want to give too much away at the same time because you need to try it for yourself! It’s very much Japanese-style in terms of flavors and ingredients but then it’s still reminiscent of the classic creamy pasta salad you know and love.

japanese pasta salad

I’ll definitely opt to bring this Japanese pasta salad to all my picnics and barbecues from now on. It’s hella impressive and exceptionally tasty!

The idea was inspired by my love for kabocha squash, my Japanese background, and the fact that May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. Check out these other Asian and Pacific Islanders for recipe inspo in this epic list that VegNews put together.

This month I already made the delectable sushi bowl but I’ve still been thinking about Japanese flavors. Watch how it comes together in the video below!

The sweet roasted kabocha squash along with veggies like corn, red onion, and kale make one killer combo! Then I went and added roasted seaweed, cilantro and black sesame for more complex flavor and texture. And the creamy miso dressing ties it all together to make one heck of an experience in your mouth! I also think the creamy miso dressing would also make an awesome sauce for burgers and sandwiches.

roasted kabocha
japanese pasta salad_hot for food
4.5 from 24 votes
Print Recipe

Japanese pasta salad with roasted kabocha

This exceptionally tasty pasta salad is like the creamy classic but with a Japanese twist! It combines a creamy miso dressing with seaweed, black sesame, kale, corn and my fave squash.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, pasta
Cuisine American, Asian, Italian, Japanese
Keyword dressings, kabocha squash, miso, pasta, pasta salad, sauces
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Lauren Toyota


roasted kabocha squash (about 3 cups)

  • 1 x 2 lb kabocha squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil (or other high-heat vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

pasta salad

  • 3 C dried orecchiette pasta
  • 2 1/2 to 3 C stemmed and finely chopped lacinato kale (about 1 small bunch)
  • 1 C fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 C finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 x 5g pkg seaweed snacks, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp black sesame seeds

creamy miso dressing (makes about 2/3 cup)

  • 1/2 C vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp mellow white miso
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

  2. Add cubes of kabocha squash to a large baking sheet. Add avocado oil, garlic powder, sea salt and ground pepper and toss with your hands to coat well. Spread out in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes, flipping half way through the bake time.

  3. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook paste to al dente. Just before draining add kale and corn to the water, stir to submerge, then drain together. Do not rinse. Let cool until room temperature before assembling the pasta salad.

  4. To make the dressing combine the mayonnaise, miso, water, lime juice, garlic and chili flakes in a blender until smooth or combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and ensure to finely mince the garlic to incorporate.

  5. Once pasta and roasted kabocha squash is cooled toss together with red onion, cilantro, seaweed, black sesame seeds and all the dressing. Serve immediately. You can also toss everything together and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. I like letting the pasta salad sit out to take the chill off from the fridge before eating.

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20 thoughts on “Japanese pasta salad with roasted kabocha”

  1. Delicious!! I subbed butternut squash, & used gf pasta, and cut up nori sheets. Unique and tasty take on pasta salad.

    1. Oh. My gosh. I just finishing making this recipe and after the first bite, I realized why you made the face you did in the video, Lauren.. because this is unlike any pasta salad ever!! I can’t stop eating it! It is the most unlikely dish and I love that it’s all together familiar and new. My tastebuds are freaking out – thank you!!!

  2. My jaw dropped when I saw this recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it. I already had all the stuff for it so I made it tonight and it was CRAZY GOOD. The dressing is magical.

  3. Tiffany Sonterre

    It’s really tasty! I’ve never had kobucha squash before but its lovely! I think I’d leave out the seaweed next time though, I didn’t care for it. But everything else was perfect!

  4. This was delicious! It was my first time cooking with kabocha squash and it turned out great. The recipe is very forgiving and flexible in that I was able to eyeball all of the measurements. The leftovers (with the dressing mixed in) tasted great days later. On day 3, I tossed some leftovers with fresh chopped romaine lettuce (as a way to eat more veggies) and fresh lime juice and it tasted great. Very happy you shared this recipe! Thank you!

  5. Mariel Rodgers

    Great ingredients but still seems bland. Added rice wine vinegar to the leftovers… maybe it’ll be livelier tomorrow.

  6. I just saw this recipe and watched the video. And it so happens I have all the ingredients on hand. It’s not salad season so I just served it hot for dinner. We could not stop eating it!!! So ono!

  7. Great, easy and delicious receipt. I just made it a couple of days ago and I agree that the taste after a day it’s even better. I love all of Lauren and Hot for Food do for the vegan community.

  8. Eek – 450 degrees dried out my squash. Would lower temp next time and watch more closely. Add a tablespoon or so of agave to the sauce, also used red miso (I prefer it), helped balance out the flavors. Not bad!

  9. Discovered kabocha a couple of years ago, curried it, main vegetable in soups, now in veggie bowls. This recipe is fantastic, will be sending to my son.

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