Here’s how to cut butternut squash easily, even if you don’t have great kitchen knives! This works for other hard winter squashes as well.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but until just a few years ago, winter squashes were more likely to be kitchen decor (a job for which they’re well suited during the late fall and winter) than as standard dinner fare.
That’s because when a recipe instructed me to “peel and dice a butternut squash” (or any other hard winter variety), I’d feel quite inadequate. Seriously? My knives are pretty good, but I always felt like I needed a chain saw to do the job.
Then, as I started to give more talks, I found that a lot of cooks shared my little secret. So, I developed a completely lazy way to tackle the winter squash dilemma.
Even cutting raw squash in half like this can be a struggle
An easy technique for any hard squash
This technique works for any kind of hard squash. A proliferation of squash varieties seems to have emerged over the last few years.
Before that, butternut, acorn, and sugar pumpkin were the primary choices, but now, you’re likely to encounter golden acorn (a sweeter, smoother cousin of the dark green variety), banana squash, delicata, turban, hubbard, and more.
The steps to avoiding the squash struggle:
1. Wrap the entire squash in aluminum foil and place in a casserole dish.
2. Bake at 375º F for 30 minutes (for smaller squashes) to 45 minutes or slightly more (for butternut, sugar pumpkin, and larger squashes). You should be able to just pierce through the skin and flesh, a couple of inches for larger squashes, about an inch for smaller ones.
If you’re planning to use the squash for pie or soup: Keep baking until you can easily pierce through.
3. Once cool enough to handle, Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
4. Cut the squash into thick slices (or see note), then peel and cut into large dice or chunks. Use as directed in recipes, or continue to roast in combination with other vegetables.
Or, if you’ve baked the squash until soft for pie or soup: Simple scoop the flesh out the peel and puree in a food processor.
Note: If you’re using smaller squashes like acorn, one way to prepare them is to leave the halves intact, and stuff the cavities with grain or bean dishes.
I love winter squash, especially butternut and sugar pumpkin; they’re nutrient dense, as well as delicious and versatile. Now, during cold season, they grace our meals more frequently, instead of just sitting on the table looking pretty.
Adapted from Plant Power by Nava Atlas
Use this technique to make:
Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
See more ways to make plant-based life easier in Tips & Trends.