Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Basic Skills; Preparing a Butternut Squash

This is the first of my Basic Skills blog posts. They're aimed at those who've just started cooking for themselves and are maybe a little bit daunted by certain recipe instructions. You could even be too embarrassed to admit it and therefore may avoid the recipe completely. I mean who actually teaches you these things? Nobody ever told me how to poach an egg, for example! I'll admit that when I started working at about 15 someone once asked me to make a cup of coffee and I was completely stumped! I'd never drunk coffee, seen it be made, been told what goes in it. It's this presumed knowledge that I hope these posts will help with. Obviously if you have no problems with these basic skills you can move onto the recipe included that uses them.

The butternut squash is a versitile winter vegetable that can be used in dishes such as stews, gratins, pasta dishes, risottos, soups and curries to name a few. It's lovely simply roasted or mashed and served as a side dish, and goes well with earthy spices such as cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Trim the two ends of the squash, then cut it in half across the middle. Stand the two ends up and cut them in half lengthways so you have four quarters.

Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. You also need to take out a thin layer of the flesh to make sure you get all the stringy pith out, as can be seen in the picture. Apparently if you roast these seeds, after washing them and adding salt, they make a tasty snack.
Jamie reckons taking the skin off is unnecessary as it bakes to become lovely and sweet, but I prefer to remove it as I'm not keen on the texture. Carefully slice the skin off, taking as little flesh off as possible. Make sure the pieces of squash are stood sturdily before you start cutting, and that your fingers are out of the way. You may need to go back and take off any layers of pith you've left behind.

You should now have 4 de seeded, peeled pieces of squash. These can be cubed, diced or sliced however you wish to include in a variety of recipes.

If kept in an airtight container, your prepared squash can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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