i’ve had this recipe bookmarked for almost two years now. every now & then i’d look at it, but ultimately decide against making it for one reason or another, but i never could forget about it completely.
i love macaroni & cheese, but adding squash to it just sounded weird. tom agreed, but last week we found ourselves with all the ingredients on hand, so it was now or never.
it’s turns out, the squash isn’t weird at. all. it adds just a subtle, delicious sweetness that sort of rounds out the flavors where other macaroni & cheeses fall flat. even better? it seamlessly takes the place of gluttonous amounts of cream & butter, which means this is a macaroni & cheese you can feel
good less guilty about digging in to.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH MACARONI & CHEESE
serves 4 as a meal, 8 as a side
1 small butternut squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
16 oz short cut pasta (elbows, penne, small rigatoni, orchiette)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 cups milk (even skim will work)
1 cup, about 4 oz, monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup, about 4oz, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
salt, to taste
preheat the oven to 425°, making sure the rack is set in the middle. line a baking sheet with parchment paper. halve the squash, scoop out the seeds & lay on the baking sheet, cut side down. bake for 25-35 minutes, until a butter knife easily slides into the flesh. remove from the oven & scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor or blender. puree until smooth.
while the squash is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. add the panko & cook, stirringly frequently, until deep, golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. set aside.
also while the squash is cooking, cook the pasta, in well salted water, according to package instructions. drain & return to the pan.
in a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. let it foam up & when the foaming dies down, add the flour & mustard powder. whisk constantly for one minute. continue whisking & gradually pour in the milk. bring the sauce to a bubble, continuing to whisk, then reduce the heat to medium low. simmer for 5-6 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce has the consistency of cream. stir in the cheeses, squash & salt, to taste, until the cheeses are melted.
pour over pasta, toss to combine & spoon into a serving dish or individual serving bowls. sprinkle with the browned panko & serve immediately.
adapted from the way the cookie crumbles