Winter squash are the armadillos of the plant world. They’re hard, funny looking, and very difficult to cut in to.
If winter squash weren’t so delicious, I wouldn’t give much thought to cutting them open. But they are, and I have. So today, dear readers, I will share what I know with you.
First of all, it helps to have a big, sharp knife. I’ve cut up a squash with a paring knife – in fact, I’ve done it more than once – but I wouldn’t recommend it. They always get stuck in the squash, and then you can’t get them out, and you can’t cut, and it’s very frustrating.
Secondly, it helps to cut your unwieldy vegetable into something that is easier to peel and cut. Something with a nice flat surface to rest on the cutting board, for example. Or straight-sided cylinders. Or maybe the sort of wedge you would cut out of a cantaloupe.
For example, when I cut up a butternut squash, I begin by taking a nice slice off the bottom and the top. Then I slice the squash into two or three cylinders with nice, straight, sliceable sides. One cylinder is the neck of the squash, one cylinder is the base of the squash, and one cylinder is the part of the squash where the neck widens to meet the base. Then, I stand each cylinder on its nice, flat, sturdy base, and slice off the peel.
If I’m dealing with a kombucha squash, I treat it more like a cantaloupe. I slice it in half, then cut each half into wedges. Then I lay the wedges on one of their flat sides and cut off the peel.
Once you have cut your squash into more manageable chunks, it’s time for step three: removing the seeds and cutting the squash into pieces. I like to combine these tasks, as you’ll see below.
If I’m dealing with a butternut squash, I slice off the top, sides, and bottom of the base cylinder (the one with all the seeds inside), leaving the seeds and pulp behind. From there, it’s pretty easy to cut the squash into cubes or slices or rectangular prisms.
If I’m dealing with a kombucha squash, I cut along the inner edge of each wedge, severing the seeds and string from the flesh, and then cut the wedge into thin slices.
And that’s it! Your squash is all ready to cook!