Ask a Chef

Ask a Chef: Alicia Walter

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

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Very helpful. However, delicata squash, for example, does not really need peeling. The skin is edible. I just made a recipe from Veg Times, Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Browned Butter and Chard (using unpeeled delicata instead of butternut) and it worked just fine. I understand kabocha does not need to be peeled either but have not tried it

Susan Pintar - 2015-09-24 19:20:48

Thanks for the review

danny - 2015-01-06 09:14:25

Thank you for the post. I love delicata, acorn and butternut squash.

Ruth McCoskey - 2012-10-30 22:48:09

Thanks! I love baking and usullay bake cookies at least a couple times a month so why not share what I think works and what doesn't. Stay tuned...

Manuela - 2012-06-10 19:27:06