Butternut squash is typically harvested from home gardens around the first frost of winter and is available year-round in supermarkets. Baking butternut squash in the oven requires little effort and results in a tender, flavorful side dish. You can eat it as-is or use it in recipes that call for winter squash. As a general rule, 1 pound of butternut squash will serve approximately four people.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the butternut squash under cool, running water, scrubbing lightly with a vegetable brush to remove external dirt. Blot dry with a paper towel and place the squash onto a large cutting board.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sturdy butcher's knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the strings and seeds from inside each squash half. Discard the seeds and strings and set the squash aside.
Fill a large baking dish with 1/4 inch of water and place the butternut squash halves inside with the cut sides facing down. Place the pan in the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the baked butternut squash to a serving dish, with the cut sides facing up. Brush melted butter or margarine over the cut sides using a basting brush, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or brown sugar, if desired.
Serve the baked butternut squash immediately for best results, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days before discarding any unused portion. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for eight to 10 minutes or in the microwave for three to five minutes.