21 degrees, bright and cold
Where I Sleep, Emeli Sandé
I’m not gonna lie. Working with large winter squash can be a real pain. When I worked in the restaurant kitchen, I had a beautiful roasted beet appetizer that I always made on my station. Many times a week, this dish required peeling the firm skin off of a gigantic butternut squash, the unavoidable goopy seed-scooping, and finally, the cutting of the squash into perfect little uniform cubes before a quick roast in the oven. These are the tedious, time-consuming things they make chefs and line cooks do in fancy restaurants. At first, it was always a little bit of torture. But after a time, it felt more like an accomplishment than a burden.
For years in the column and on the blog, I’ve heavily touted my easy whole-roasting method for tackling big squash like spaghetti, butternut, and pumpkin. It’s a great kitchen hack for home cooks. It allows you to put the entire thing in the oven to get good and tender before ever trying to cut into it with a knife. No peeling required. The method works beautifully for a great many recipes. However, not today’s recipe.
Today, I’m going to ask you to tackle a butternut squash. I’m going to encourage you to arm yourself with a good heavy kitchen knife, freshly-sharpened. If you don’t have one, then walk away now, because I’d much rather you keep your fingers. I’m also going to ask you to grab a sturdy vegetable peeler. And most importantly, I’m going to ask you to believe in yourself. You can do this. There’s a pot of smoky, velvety soup waiting for you on the other side. In fact, take the day’s stress and the cold weather with you into the kitchen. Peel off those frustrations. Scoop out the messiness of your week. Chop away at that squash to conquer whatever it is that weighs on you. I’m a firm believer that the process of making the food can be just as grounding and soothing as the eating of it.