Butternut squash is an often overlooked vegetable choice. Yet, it's affordable and readily available at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. It's also easy to cook and quite versatile, as you can use it as a side dish or incorporate it into other dishes. Baking a butternut squash brings out its earthy flavor that works well with both sweet and savory ingredients.
Baking and Roasting
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Baking and roasting are both dry heat cooking methods, which means that heat isn't transferred through a liquid medium during the cooking process. The terms are often used interchangeably, but in the roasting process, you typically want to brown the dish. For both methods, cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and the stringy membranes and discard.
Peel the squash and cut into slices or 2-inch cubes if you want the squash to roast and brown. Place the squash on the baking sheet, add olive oil, salt and pepper for a savory dish, or olive oil, honey and cinnamon for a sweet one. Toss to coat. Arrange the pieces in a single layer, so that each piece browns evenly. To simply bake the squash without browning, take the halved butternut squash and place it flesh side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake the 2-inch cubes for 30 minutes, or until the squash is golden and tender. Serve the squash as a side dish or combine it with cooked risotto or rice for a complete meal. Bake the halved squash for 30 to 40 minutes. When the halved baked squash is soft and tender, it's done.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, but do not remove the seeds or membranes.
Place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan or baking dish. Add a small amount of water and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender. Remove the squash from the pan and allow to cool slightly.
Scoop the seeds and membrane out, and discard. Scoop out the flesh, or meaty part, of the squash and mash. You can use the mashed squash in place of sweet potatoes in your mashed sweet potatoes recipe. You can also puree the mashed squash and use it to make baby food, or in recipes for baked goods like cinnamon butternut squash muffins.