Ask a Chef: Alicia Walter
“What’s a fail-safe way to cut a hard-shell squash?”
We asked Alicia Walter, who expertly chops, dices, and slices raw veggies for shoppers as a vegetable butcher (that’s her official title!) at New York’s bustling Eataly marketplace. Here’s what she said:
For squash with rounded ends, such as acorn, delicata, or spaghetti, cut about an inch off both the stem and the flower ends with a chef’s knife; stand the squash upright on the broader cut end. Position the knife blade perpendicular to the top of the squash. Place a folded kitchen towel over the spine of the blade, and set one hand, palm flat and fingers extended, over the towel. With your other hand, firmly grip the knife handle. Using both hands, press down on the knife with firm, steady pressure to cleanly cut through the squash. You can now easily remove the seeds.
For squash with distinct necks, such as butternut, first cut off the flower end. Next, cut through the squash right where the neck begins to swell into a bulb. You can then cut the bulbous portion in half horizontally.
Turban squash offer a dramatic presentation whether you slice them vertically or across their equator. To serve them stuffed or as a soup tureen with a quirky cap, cut them horizontally at the seam between their two distinct sections. Or they can be cut vertically and roasted.October 2011 p.16