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How to cut up and cook a butternut squash

publication date: Oct 27, 2008
author/source: Fiona Beckett
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I have to admit it took me some time to get to grips with butternut squash. I didn’t buy them regularly until a couple of years ago but you can make so many great dishes with them and they have so many health benefits as you can see if you read Kerry’s recent article, they reward all the effort it takes to cut them up. (And I won’t kid you - it takes some effort!)

First of all you need a couple of sharp knives - a big one to cut the squash in half and a small sharp one to peel the rind off any smaller pieces you’re going to cook on their own

First cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with the tip of a dessertspoon. This is all you need to do if you’re going to make soup. OIl the cut surface lightly, season with salt and pepper and place the two halves cut side downwards on a baking tray in a moderate oven (190°C/375°F/Gas 5) for about 40 minutes until the squash is soft. Cool then scoop out the pulp with a spoon and add it to whatever recipe you’re using (such as the Hallowe’en ‘pumpkin’ soup)

If you want to use it as part of a tray of roast veggies, in a risotto or to add to a curry you’ll need to cut the squash into smaller chunks. The easiest way to do this is to cut each half into four with your big knife then divide each piece into 4-6 smaller pieces and cut the skin off each piece individually with your small knife. This sounds a palaver - it is - but it’s much easier than attempting to take the skin off a large piece.

Unless you’re making a curry you need to roast the squash as above to get some flavour into it. Raw squash is pretty bland and boiled squash goes all squelchy. So put the cubes in the tin with about 3 tablespoons of oil, season with 2 tsp of crushed coriander seeds and 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or a good few grinds of one of those ready mixed hot spice mills and roast as above. I also tend to roast some onions and red peppers at the same time

You can serve these roast veggies on their own or as an accompaniment to a meat dish or add the cooked squash to a vegetable stew or risotto (you can find a recipe in Beyond Baked Beans Green). Any leftovers can be mixed with made-up couscous and some toasted seeds and chopped fresh herbs if you have some. You can crumble over a bit of feta or goats' cheese too.


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