If you’re like me, it took you a while to attempt to cook a butternut squash. Maybe it’s something you reserve only for the holidays, or maybe, you would rather just run away and not think about these mysterious looking winter squash. I’m right there with you, because for years I preferred to leave the cutting and roasting of squash in more capable hands. Fortunately, you all can learn from my mistake, because there is no reason not to make butternut squash a part of your every week. And thankfully they store for up to a couple months in a cool pantry, which is how they got the name winter squash in the first place since they store very well throughout the winter.
Butternut squash are notoriously hard to cut, as are many squash varieties. Start by preheating your oven to 400*F. Then, to make this task easier, pierce the squash with the tip of your knife 6 or 7 times. Place the squash in a microwave, on high, for 3 minutes. This will soften the squash and make it easier to cut.
Remove the squash from the microwave, and bring to a cutting board. Starting at the top of the squash and working with the tip of your knife first, make a vertical cut through the middle of the squash. Remember: keep the tip of your knife down. This will make your work easier and safer. Work your way down one side and up the back. The squash should split right open.
Scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon and discard. Place the squash halves in a baking dish or on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with either salt and pepper or brown sugar.
I prefer to draw out the savory side, so I use salt and pepper, but if you’re looking for a sweet treat, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar and a dusting of ground cinnamon is the way to go. In my squash, I placed three cloves of whole, peeled garlic in the centers of each half, then discarded them after baking. If you’re embracing the sweet side, go ahead and skip the garlic.
Bake your squash for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes. At this point you can either scoop out the pulp with a spoon, mix with a little extra butter, and salt/pepper or brown sugar. Or, eat it like I did, straight out of the shell with a fork.