With its sweet, creamy, dark-orange flesh, and smooth, easy-to-peel skin, butternut squash is one of the best and most versatile of all the fall squashes. It takes well to all kinds of cooking methods (though its especially delicious when roasted) and pairs well with a wide variety of flavorings including orange, lemon, balsamic vinegar, sharp cheeses, robust herbs, bold spices, and cured meats like bacon.
One 2-lb. squash = about 3 cups diced
You can substitute acorn squash or sugar pumpkin, which have a similar flavor and texture; they're a bigger hassle to peel, though.
Choose squash that feel heavy for their size; those that don't feel heavy have probably been sitting around for a while and have lost moisture.
To peel and cube butternut squash: Square off the ends and cut the squash in two just above the bulbous end. Stand the sections on the flat ends and use a sharp knife (or vegetable peeler) to remove the tough outer peel, slicing from top to bottom. Cut the rounded end in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into uniform 1/2- or 3/4-inch cubes, so they'll cook evenly. To roast butternut squash halves: Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut surfaces with oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and roast, cut side up, until deeply browned and very tender, about 80 to 90 minutes.
Store whole, unpeeled squash at room temperature for up to a week. It will keep longer in cool, dark storage. Diced butternut squash can be refrigerated for a few days.