Pumpkins and other firm winter squash can seem a bit daunting the first time you set out to cook one at home. This is largely because they’re a bit foreign looking when compared to other fruits and veggies, with an intimidating outer peel. Fortunately, they can actually be very easy to cook and once you’ve done it once, you’ll find yourself doing it again to enjoy the sweet, tender flesh of the gourd as a side dish with dinner.
To begin, take your squash (acorn, butternut, etc.) and wash it well. Then, trim off the top and bottom stems. Slice the squash down the middle carefully, using a very sharp knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. There is no need to remove the skin because the flesh will be so tender after roasting that you can scrape it off of the skin with a spoon, but this is the time to peel it if you prefer to cut your squash into chunks before roasting.
Place the squash on a lightly oiled sheet of aluminum paper or directly on a lightly greased baking sheet and slide it into a 375F oven. Cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the flesh tender and roast for 60-80 minutes. The timing will depend on how thick your squash was to begin with, so check it and make sure that it is fork-tender before you take it out of the oven regardless of baking time.
At this point, I brush mine with a little butter and salt (or butter, salt and maple syrup if I want something sweet) and serve it as is. The squash can also be pureed into a mashed potato-like dish or used in baking at this point, as well.