You’ve planned your meal and have decided that butternut squash would be the perfect accompaniment to your dish. But one look at this seemingly innocent yet tough-to-prepare vegetable brings on a feeling of dread. Laziness kicks in. You try to figure out how to prepare butternut squash an easier way. You think twice, and decide to cook something else. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
As delicious as it is, butternut squash can be frustrating to prepare. Peeling the tough skin is a daunting task that many try to avoid; grabbing the pre-cut butternut in the store instead. We don’t blame you. Many people have been injured trying to get past the tough exterior of butternut squash. However, there is something to be said about preparing and cooking something from scratch, and with butternut, the outcome is definitely worth the effort if you do it right. Here are a few easy tips for preparing butternut squash.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash the Easy Way
From hearty soups and stews to tasty sides, butternut squash offers a comforting element to a dish, especially during winter. No matter how you decide to cook it, preparing it is the main hurdle to overcome. With these simple butternut squash tips, preparation will be less daunting.
1. Choosing Butternut Squash
Preparing butternut squash begins with selection. The whole process – and final taste – begins with selecting the right one. While everyone and their grandmother have their own method of selection, here are a few tips we can all agree on:
- While some surface scratching is normal, avoid butternut that has deep cuts and bruises
- The butternut should have a solid beige color without any brown patches or holes otherwise bacteria and mold can easily take hold.
- Choose the butternut that feels heavy for its size
- Store it in a cool, dark area of your kitchen
2. Peeling and Seeding Butternut Squash
Did you know that this is a completely optional step, depending on how you’re going to cook it? The skin softens as it is cooked, making it easy to eat or peel off after the fact. You can also leave the skin on if you are not too worried about the presentation. However, if you decide to peel, you will need a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife. Blunt tools will only make this a difficult and frustrating task. You could also microwave the butternut squash for about 3.5 minutes to soften the skin and make peeling easier. Just be sure to poke it with a fork a few times before placing it in the microwave. Also, be sure to give it time to cool off before handling it again.
- Using a chef’s knife, slice off the stem and bottom end of the butternut so that both ends of the squash are flat
- Where the long “neck” section of the squash meets the more rounded part, cut the squash in half
- Place each half on its flat end and use the peeler or paring knife to peel the squash in downward strokes.
- Ensure that you peel down to the orange flesh – do not leave any of the green lines beneath the skin.
- The seeds are stored in the fatter end of the butternut, so cut that half lengthwise to expose them.
- Scoop out the seeds and discard – or keep them to roast or replant!
3. Cutting Butternut Squash
Now that the tough bit is done, slice and dice the butternut as you wish. Be sure to cut them into roughly the same size pieces so that they cook quickly and evenly. Feel free to season the butternut according to your preference – or simply enjoy its natural sweet flavors.
The Nutritional Value of Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is packed full of vitamins such as A, C, and B6. It should be noted that vitamins C and B6 are water-soluble so care should be taken not to cook it in water that will be discarded as the nutritional value will be lost. This vegetable is also high in fiber and potassium, and the seeds contain healthy fats and are a great source of protein – not so keen to throw the seeds out now, are you?
Roasting Butternut Squash Seeds
The entire butternut squash can be used – from the skin to the seeds. You’ve come this far along the preparation of your butternut squash so you might as well use it all. The seeds taste great when roasted. Here’s how to prepare them:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The pulp and seeds will probably be joined together. The easiest way to separate them is to cover them in water in a mixing bowl, using your fingers to separate seed from the pulp
- Drain the seeds and pick out any leftover threads of pulp.
- Bring water to a boil (add in about 1 teaspoon of salt), and add in the seeds – for every quart of water, use up to two cups of seeds – and boil for 10 minutes
- Drain the seeds and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Toss them in a bit of olive oil or melted butter
- Spread the seeds out onto a baking tray and season as desired
- Toast them in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, checking them often to ensure that they don’t burn.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash: It Can be Easier than You Thought
This comforting, versatile vegetable can be intimidating, but with a few simple steps can be easier to prepare than many other vegetables. It also offers excellent value for money when one considers that the entire butternut can be used. So next time you’re tempted to reach for the pre-cut butternut squash in the supermarket, get a whole one instead – it can be easy to prepare and offers endless ways to cook it. After all, variety is the spice of life!
- Roasted Butternut Squash – HowStuffWorks
- 7 Butternut Squash Hacks To Conquer This Tricky Gourd – HuffPost