Confession: I refrain from buying produce I don’t like to prep. I hate mincing garlic (annoying), slicing onions (my eyes!), and peeling anything with skin—apples, potatoes, and especially…butternut squash. The skin has a lot of nutrients, so in most cases, this works out totally fine because I can tell myself it’s better for me not to peel my fruits and veggies (more nutrition! less waste! save time!). Except butternut squash. That one requires some prep work.
I’ve gotten creative about cutting squash in half and baking it skin-on so I can then simply scoop out the cooked insides and use it in soups and smoothies. But I was absolutely craving roasted cubed squash the other week—tender but not mushy with those lovely caramelized edges!—and I knew it was time I figured out once and for all how to break down a damn butternut squash without losing half of it to my peeler and in a way that doesn’t make me legitimately worried I’m going to take off a finger or two. Can I blame this on being left-handed?
After much thought and strategizing (seriously, I needed a game plan), I’ve finally settled on a butternut squash peel + cut process that’ll work for me. And hopefully you too, if you also avoid squash because it’s a PITA to cut and you may or may not be vegetable peeler-challenged.
Regular recipe instructions are below, and we (Aaron) also took a photo of each step for you (and me) (I know I’ll need to reference this post). Let’s do this!
- First slice off the top of the squash, just below the stem, then slice off the bottom of the squash, removing about 1-inch at the base. Make a third slice across the squash at the point where it begins to widen (about halfway down).
- Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, remove the skin. Many people find a vegetable peeler easier because it removes less of the flesh, but I tend to prefer a paring knife. It's totally up to you and whatever feels most comfortable!
- Once you've removed the skin, cut each piece in half lengthwise so the innards can be removed. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces. If you're feeling up to it, you can pick out the seeds to reserve for roasting, as you would do with pumpkin seeds.
- You should now have four very manageable pieces of squash, each one no more menacing than a sweet potato. To cube the squash, slice each piece into half moons, and then each half moon into cubes. Try to keep the cubes consistent, but don't worry that each piece isn't exactly the same. The smaller pieces are especially delicious when roasted and crispy!
- Use the cubed butternut squash in pureed soups and hearty stews, or roast it in the oven for a delicious side dish, smoothie, or salad topping.
Photography by Aaron Scott
Do you ever avoid certain foods because you don’t want to prep them?
Next week: a very tasty recipe that’ll make you really glad you learned how to tackle butternut squash!