Butternut squash is delicious and healthy. When cubed and roasted, it makes a fantastic side dish. If you puree it, you'll have the base for a thick, cream soup, curry, or pasta sauce without having to add any dairy at all. But cutting up a whole squash can a very daunting task, and it's a real pain if you don't do it right.
Here is our favorite way to safely chop one up without too much hassle (video below):
Start by taking your squash and cutting the very top and bottom off. Try to cut the bottom flat so it will stand up straight -- this will make it easier and safer to handle when you start hacking away.
Now stand it up and cut it in half, straight down the center from top to bottom (perpendicular to your first cut). You should see seeds and pulp in the middle. Take a spoon and scoop all of that out.
If you want, you can wash and roast the edible seeds in an oven or toaster oven until they are brittle and golden. Enjoy them like you would pumpkin seeds.
Now for the fun part: removing the skin. We found that the best way to do this is to cut the halves into smaller, more manageable pieces. Cut each half across into thirds. You should be cutting perpendicular to your last cut. Next, stand those pieces up on their side so they lie flat on the cutting board, and carefully make small cuts downward to remove the skin from each piece.
Dice the pieces as small as you want. We recommend cutting each slice lengthwise and then cutting parallel across that to make 1 inch cubes, but feel free to go wild.
For an easy butternut squash soup, try roasting the cubes until tender. Puree them with a chopped, cooked onion, a couple cloves of garlic and six cups of chicken or vegetable stock (for a two-to-three pound squash). Season however you like -- we recommend salt, pepper and either nutmeg or paprika and cayenne pepper. Sour cream, green onions, croutons, or the roasted and shelled butternut squash seeds all make great toppings.