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I bake my squash (butternut, etc.) cut side down on parchment paper, 350 degrees, for 50-60 minutes. Seems to work out fine. When I was first learning to cook I followed recipes which called for oiling the cut side and baking cut side up.

I was just looking at this NYTimes recipe Butternut Squash Soup and it reminded me of the early recipes I learned from:

Rub the flesh of the squash with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt. Place the squash cut sides up on a small baking sheet, and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the flesh is tender and a knife can be inserted easily, about 50 minutes.

My question: is there a point to that extra effort? What benefit is there with the oiling/covering with foil vs. just baking cut side down? With the latter, the cut surface is protected and does not dry out. The salt can be added later.

Am I missing some cooking nuance here or is this simply a matter of style (and/or parchment paper)?

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One reason to cooking cut side up under foil would be to have a gentler heat via steam, as opposed to direct thermal contact with the baking dish.

Direct contact with something like an aluminum sheet pan, especially if there's fat involved, could lead to a different surface texture than one that was purely steamed.

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    Especially true when the end goal is a soup and you don't want to have to cut off the browned side and waste it as it may not purée as cleanly as a cut side that's been steamed.
    – Catija
    Oct 21, 2022 at 13:29
  • Thanks – you make a good point about the steaming.
    – spring
    Oct 21, 2022 at 14:54
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I've been baking squash cut side up 90% of the time as I like the texture better. I spray the top with cooking spray then add a pat of butter, salt, pepper, micro shake of cayenne pepper and brown sugar in the scooped out portions. I do add water to the bottom of the baking pan, cover with foil, then bake at 400 degrees. Depending on the size of the squash, I start out at 45 minutes and check doneness from there. I let cool, scoop out and mash with cream and extra butter.

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