Oh, The Squash. The poor, misunderstood squash. He always looks bored and unexcited, like a wallflower chillin' with his squash friends at a junior high dance, not talking to the squash girls but secretly hoping they will approach him in all of his blandness. Many a time I have snubbed poor Squash at the grocery store as I muttered under my breath, "What would I ever do with you?" I mean, he just looks bland, right? There couldn't possibly be any "meat" anywhere inside of there. And if there were some substance, would it actually taste good?
My mother often prepared spaghetti squash quite deliciously growing up, but I never knew much about other varieties. I have only recently expanded my squash horizons and I am happy to say that I am a true lover of the entire squash family! There is substance under the surface and it is good! There is something appealing to me about the unique texture and flavor combination that can be found in my new friend.
For some reason, Butternut Squash has always intimidated me the most out of all of his brothers, sisters and cousins. I recently discovered a few butternut squash recipes to try, so that was a great excuse for me to break down the wall and get to know this mysterious winter squash. (In Australia and New Zealand, it is considered a pumpkin.)
Let it be known that peeling and cutting a butternut squash is not the world's easiest task. If you have some aggresssion to release regarding an arduous project at work or perhaps an argument you had with a friend, go buy a butternut squash and begin peeling!
First, I cut off both the top and the bottom ends of the squash.
From what I have heard, it is fairly common for people to have allergic reactions when the skin of the butternut squash is removed and exposed to human skin. It is temporary, but it can cause some short-lived tightness and rawness. I am a risk taker at heart, so I don't bother wearing gloves. Maybe you will want to, though.
I like to start with my stronger vegetable peeler (I think this is in the Swiss peeler family) and peel from the top of the squash, as far down as the peeler will allow. I do this all the way around the squash.
Then I peel what I can from around the bottom of the squash.
Getting into the curves and grooves with that peeler is nearly impossible, so I switch over to my basic (swivel) peeler. This does a great job of peeling through the curves.
I chisel away at the squash with my peelers until I have reached the meat, or until all of the green vertical lines are shaved off. And I wish you chould see my kitchen at this point. Squash peels everywhere!
Then I cut the squash directly down the middle, vertically. And I scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Now I have two peeled and gutted, edible butternut squash halves. (The skin and the seeds are edible, just not usually the parts that are most desirable to consume.)
I turn the halves so that the flat surfaces lay directly on a cutting board. I cut one-inch slices from top to bottom all the way across the squash and then I cut one-inch slices from side to side all the way down the squash.
And now I have something that resembles a bowl full of cubed cheddar cheese! But it tastes nothing like cheddar cheese, so don't mislead your tastebuds.
Butternut squash is often pureed and put into soups, breads or baked dishes. It is also tasty when roasted or grilled, perhaps with a little bit of oil or butter and seasoning.