Sunday, September 12, 2010

How-to: Cutting Butternut Squash / Toasting Squash Seeds

Fall—a.k.a. squash season—is just about here! A recipe for curried butternut squash bisque is forthcoming on BGC…but for now, I thought I'd get everyone in the squash spirit with a quick how-to on cutting butternut squash, which can be daunting since it's so dense. As you may have learned from experience, randomly hacking away with a kitchen knife is likely to result in a frustrating "Sword in the Stone"-type moment.

(Plus, below is a bonus how-to on toasting seasoned squash seeds, which make a great healthy munchie or a sophisticated garnish—throwing the raw seeds out is such a waste!)

Cutting Butternut Squash:

  • Peel the squash lengthwise with a vegetable peeler. You may need to go around the underside of the base in circular motions once or twice.
  • Chop off the stem and the knobby part of the base.
  • Cut the squash crosswise right above where it starts to get bulbous—so you end up with one round piece and one cylindrical-ish piece.
  • Cut the top (cylindrical-ish) piece in half lengthwise.
  • Cut the bottom (bulbous) piece in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the squash seeds with the tip of the vegetable peeler or a spoon. (Set aside the seeds in a bowl to make the spicy seeds below.)
  • Scrape the inside of the squash cavity to remove the stringy threads from the sides (it needn't be totally pristine.)

Now, you can slice your squash into wedges for roasting, cubes for soup or baby food, or whatever other shape your recipe calls for—and you won't have a sore shoulder from trying to slice through it whole.

Toasting Seasoned Squash Seeds:

  • Using your fingers, remove as much of the stringy pulp stuck to the seeds as you can.
  • Toss the seeds in salt, garlic powder, paprika, and a splash of olive oil.
  • Bake the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet at 400° for about 5 minutes or until they're crunchy. (Check them compulsively—left unattended, they burn in no time!)
  • You can garnish a soup or salad with these or just munch them straight from a bowl as you would spiced nuts.

Happy squashing!


  1. Thanks! Never knew what the deal was with eating/preparing squash seeds. Cool!

  2. Enjoy! It works with pumpkin seeds as well (you'll get vastly more seeds), and you can try different spice combos to your taste. Curry powder, cumin, cayenne, or dried thyme would all be good.