3 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, buttercup, or acorn squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, for the baking sheet
To serve (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons Balsamic reduction for “Drizzling” (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Cut the squash in half through the stem and blossom ends. Scoop out all the seeds and fibers so the flesh is clean. Place each half cut side down and, with a sharp chef’s knife, cut straight across to trim the ends of the squash. Then cut the squash into even slices (cutting cross-wise) or wedges (cutting lengthwise)—all about 2-inches thick at the widest part.
Remove the peel from the squash slices with a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife. (With acorn squash, strip off the peel just from the top of the ridges; this will help the pieces cook faster and creates a decorative striped look.)
Pile the squash in a mixing bowl, drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt over the pile and toss to coat the slices with the seasonings.
Spread the butter on a large baking sheet (or line it with a non-stick silicon sheet.). Lay the slices flat on the sheet with plenty of space between them for even caramelization.
Bake about 20 minutes then flip the pieces over; bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until they are tender all the way through (poke with a fork to check) and nicely caramelized on the edges.
Serve hot, piling up the squash pieces on top of a pool of Orange Sauce; drizzle Balsamic reduction in thin streaks all over the top.
The squash is also delicious with just one of the sauces or with only a final drizzle of good olive oil and another sprinkle of salt before serving by itself!
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBH 44.