Versatile, substantial and nutritious, butternut squash is at its prime from early autumn through late winter and can serve as an entree or a side dish. An excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium, butternut squash provides dietary fiber and other nutrients with relatively few calories and little fat. Select a squash that feels heavy for its size, is free of visible damage and has smooth, evenly colored skin. Cook it in the oven halved, still in the rind, or peeled and cut into smaller pieces. Either way, you won't need to use oil.
Position an oven rack on the center tier and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Peel the butternut squash if you want to cook and serve it in pieces.
Cut the peeled squash into chunks of the desired size if you're not roasting the halves in the rind. Place the pieces or halves in a glass baking dish.
Put 1/2 stick of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt it in the microwave. Use a cooking brush to coat the squash with the melted butter.
Season the butternut squash to taste, or according to the directions in a chosen recipe. Sprinkle on salt, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar for a simple preparation. Alternatively, drizzle it lightly with honey or maple syrup. You can also dust it with cinnamon and nutmeg, or with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake the butternut squash for 20 to 30 minutes. Its size, the accuracy of your oven temperature and other factors affect the cooking time. Remove the squash from the oven when it begins to caramelize and its flesh is tender.