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How to Peel and Prepare a Butternut Squash

Winter is the perfect time for experimenting with dishes based on butternut squash. Its deep orange color brightens plates in sides like this easy roasted vegetable creation and its silky texture and slightly nutty flavor perfect these enjoyable recipes. Preparing butternut squash, however, can be challenging without knowning peeling and preparation tricks.

Butternut squash is known for being difficult to peel due to its thick, plastic-like skin. This problem is easily solved by microwaving the squash for 3 minutes before attempting to peel it. Wash the squash and then place it on a microwave-safe plate. Pierce the skin a few times to allow air to escape. Then microwave it for 1 to 3 minutes depending on its size. When you remove the squash from the microwave, rinse it in cold water to make handling it easier.

The next important step is to stabilize the squash. To do so, cut off an inch from its base with a heavy, sharpened chef’s knife. This will make peeling safer by preventing the squash from moving. Also remove the top inch of the squash. Sit the vegetable upright, resting on its base.

You now have two options. You may wish to use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. This option often results in the least amount of wasted flesh because it allows only the skin to be removed. However, many vegetable peelers are no match for the thick skin of a butternut squash. The microwave preparation should have softened the skin, but if it remains too thick for a vegetable peeler, the alternative is to use a knife. If you wish to use a knife to peel the squash, separate its neck from the base and remove the skin from the top portion of the base in smooth yet small strokes. Then flip the base over and repeat for the remaining skin.

After peeling the squash, separate the neck from the base if you have not already done so. Cut both sections in half. Rest each of the halves of the neck on the flat surface and cut them into strips or cubes based on what your recipe requires. Then take a fork and clean out the seeds and pulp from the havles of the base. These extras can be used to flavor soups or sauces instead of throwing them away. Your squash is now ready to cook!

An excellent recipe is Butternut Squash Gratin with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts.