This technique is a great way to use up excess butternut squash—and create a tasty ingredient at the same time. Because the squash halves roast cut side down, the skin acts as an insulator and trapped moisture steams the squash through and makes it very tender. Plus, the cut sides get a bit of caramelization. You can make dozens of things with the roasted squash, from soup and quick bread to stuffed pastas, side dishes, pies, pizzas, and more. One pound of squash yields about 1 cup roasted flesh. You can store the cooked squash, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 2 days. If it gives off a little liquid, just drain it off or put the squash in a nonstick saucepan over low heat to cook off the excess moisture.

  • Unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • Kosher salt
  • Maple syrup
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds butternut squash (About 1 jumbo, 2 medium or 3 small)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil first and then top with parchment paper. Rub the parchment paper all over with a little butter. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (I use a big serving spoon). Arrange the squash halves (cut side up at first) on the sheet pan.

Sprinkle on a little salt and drizzle just a tiny bit of maple syrup over the squash. Then turn them over so that they lie cut side down on the baking sheets.

Roast the squash until the flesh is very tender (poke and prod the neck end with a finger to be sure), the skin is very browned and collapsed, and the edges of the undersides are caramelized, at least 1 hour and up to 1 hour 20 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Let the squash cool on the sheet pans. Gently turn the squash over and scoop the flesh out with a serving spoon (or your fingers), leaving all the skin behind.