With Fall looming around the corner, I decided it was the right time to post a little tutorial on how to tackle a troublesome classic fall vegetable…. the Butternut Squash
The Butternut Squash is a vegetable that I think is more commonly known now, but I think that most people are familiar with it because they see it on restaurant menus, most often in the form of a creamy Butternut Squash Soup. But I kind of doubt that the average person would pick up this weird gourd in the grocery store or at the farmer’s market and know what to do with it.
I have to admit, I didn’t really start cooking butternut squashes regularly until this year because I always thought they were kind of a pain to deal with. But I bought a few from Farm Chick’s Produce (my favorite local vegetable farmer) recently and I cooked a recipe so yummy that my husband declared that I had to start making it regularly.
He didn’t realize that this veggie is so tough to deal with, so the next time we made it, I had him go through these steps to show him that it isn’t the easiest task, but that with the right tools you can get the job done. The bonus is that this vegetable is VERY affordable, and a great carbohydrate that is naturally gluten-free.
So… to start with, you just need a few tools. Butternut squash is VERY hard, so you definitely need a sharp knife. A dull knife won’t do at all. For this, I prefer to use a 7-inch santoku knife because it has a rounded tip, and it helps me make very straight cuts. I have both a German Santoku knife and a Japanese Style Santoku Knife by Shun, which is pictured below. I love the Shun knives… they are so elegant.
Secondly, you need a Grapefruit Spoon. I actually use grapefruit spoons for lots of little jobs in the kitchen as a cheap secret weapon. Thirdly, you need a good peeler. My favorite is a Y-shaped peeler because I think they are way better than the ones that you hold on the side. Almost all chefs and line cooks have a few of these in the knife bags that they take to work. They are cheap and the best. You’ll see what I mean below.
Ok, now that you’ve got your tools assembled, use your sharp knife to cut of the tops and bottoms of your squash.
Next, peel your squash using your Y peeler. Hold the squash on the side with your non-dominant hand, and using your dominant hand, drag the peeler from the middle towards the cut end, turning the squash with your non-dominant hand slowly. With butternut squashes, there is usually a “bulb” end and a straighter end… for lack of a better word we will call it the shaft. I know, I know… bear with me. It’s not my fault so many vegetables are phallic-shaped! I usually start by peeling the “shaft” part first, then flip it over and peel the “bulb” end.
Ok, now I know you are probably incredibly offended or entertained. Don’t take it out on the vegetable… Let’s just move on to step 3. Now cut the squash into two pieces…. separating the “bulb” and the “shaft”…. (go ahead and giggle some more…)
Now cut the “bulb” end in half straight down the middle. This will expose the seeds. There are only seeds in the “bulb” end.
Now use that awesome secret weapon, i.e. your Grapefruit Spoon, to scoop out the seeds. A pretty awesome little trick, right?
Alright! Now you are good to go! From here you can chop it up however you need it for any number of recipes! I highly suggest my recipe for Cinnamon Maple Roasted Butternut Squash here.