Sweet, healthy and delicious, butternut squash is a versatile vegetable that you can use to create many tasty dishes. However, it can also be awkward to prepare. Thick and dense to cut, large and prone to wobbling around, it’s essential to use the right technique to prepare a butternut squash safely.
Safety advice for preparing a butternut squash
Stabilising the butternut squash
To prevent the butternut squash from rolling around when preparing it, once sliced in half, cut the vegetable again so that it has a flat edge to sit on. Squaring it off in this way makes the butternut squash a lot easier to handle.
Peeling the butternut squash
In many recipes, you will need to remove the skin from a butternut squash. The safest way to do this is by using a vegetable or swivel blade peeler. Using a knife to peel the thick skin of a butternut squash can be tricky and unstable.
You can also soften the skin of a butternut squash by putting the whole vegetable in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds.1 This makes peeling a lot easier.
Preparing your butternut squash to cook
- First, cut off each end of the squash.
- Next, slice it in half at the point where the cylindrical shape becomes more bulbous, i.e. horizontally where the form of the vegetable changes. Hold the squash steady for this process and use a sharp knife to cut smoothly through the dense fibres.2
- Sometimes a recipe will require you to segment the butternut squash lengthways. This method is more precarious, and thus taking extra caution is recommended.
- Remove the skin from the butternut squash, as described above.
- Slice the bottom half of the squash in half again, so that the seeds are exposed. Scoop these out using a spoon.
- The butternut squash can then be cubed or cut into wedges, depending on what you need for your recipe.
Roasting a butternut squash in the skin
If you are slow-roasting a butternut squash, you can leave the skin on. Once you have cooked it in this way, the skin is soft and edible.
Carefully, cut the butternut squash in half, lengthways, remove the seeds with a spoon and place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil, season and add herbs of your choice. Roast in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C for approximately 45 minutes, until tender. The soft flesh can then be scooped out and used for mashes and purees.3
Delicious uses for a butternut squash
Butternut squash is a highly nutritious vegetable, packed with fibre, vitamin A and C. Its sweet flavour, which intensifies further if roasted, is delicious as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.4
Try adding it to a risotto or roasting it with warming spices, such as coriander and nutmeg. Its texture and flavour also work well in soups and stews. Just combine it with your choice of vegetables, lentils or beans, and simmer in a tasty stock, made simply using a vegetable bouillon powder. Alternatively, enjoy butternut squash as a pure, comfort food treat by roasting it and then creating a smooth puree in a blender.5
Last updated: 4 May 2020