It’s fall, and winter squash season. Everywhere you look there is a tasty new recipe for butternut, acorn, spaghetti and pumpkin. You Pin them on Pinterest. You print them off. You see them piled high on the shelf at the supermarket and……you keep walking. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO BREAK THEM DOWN, and it scares you.
Well, we are here to tell you, and show you, how easy it really is to cut up and clean up those big winter squashes so that you can prepare that healthy and tasty recipe.
You will need:
1 large cutting board, either plastic or wood (glass is not a cutting board- it is a serving platter), secured with a wet towel or paper towels to keep it from moving on the counter;
1 large chef’s knife, sharp;
1 kitchen spoon and bowl.
The hardest part about breaking down a large squash is keeping your fingers out of harm’s way while keeping the squash from moving on the counter. If it works better for you, slice a small portion off the side of the squash, to make a flat spot. This will keep it from rolling around on the board.
First, rinse off the squash under cool water. Dry it off with a paper towel.
Second, slice off the ends of the squash. This will expose the interior meat of the squash. Using a sharp knife is key. Don’t push straight down on the knife. Let the blade of the knife do the hard work and rock the blade forward and back, like you are slicing. If your squash is particularly big, use your other hand to secure the blade of the knife. But be sure to put a kitchen towel between your hand and the blade in case you slip. Stitches are NOT part of the recipe!
Third, turn the squash on end and cut in half. If you are cutting a butternut, cut the squash where the bulb meets the neck. It is easier to peel and deseed this way.
Fourth, for spaghetti, acorn and similar squash, remove the seeds using the edge of a kitchen spoon. Discard the seeds. For butternut, peel the thin skin using either a vegetable peeler or a knife. Be careful not to remove too much of the meat with the skin. Remove the seeds from the bulb as described and discard.
Next, for spaghetti and similar squashes, it is time to cook them. There are several ways to do it, but the easiest and most basic is to steam them. Lay them cut side down in a baking pan and add about 1/2 cup of water. Cover with foil, bake at 375 until tender, about 30 minutes. For butternut squash, dice the squash to desired size. If you are using it in a soup, simply rough chop the squash into large pieces. To roast and add to a salad or as a side dish, dice into smaller pieces.
So next time, don’t pass up that big pile of squash at the grocery store. Be brave, and pick one out with few blemishes, and feels heavy for its size. Then take it home and cut it up, because you know how now! If you don’t use it right away, keep it in a cool dark place for up to several weeks. But don’t wait too long, because you have a lot of delicious recipes to make!
Friend that Cooks personal chefs in Wichita, Chicago, St. Louis, Omaha , Des Moines and Kansas City offer weekly meal prep for families with busy schedules, food allergies or special diets. Learn more at http://www.friendthatcooks.com