I am very fortunate that Little Man eats his veggies without too much of a fuss (the boy LOVES broccoli!! He did not get that from me). So, I don't worry about him getting his daily servings of vegetables. However, like any mom, I am not averse to getting in more veggies in unusual ways. It's better for him, and better for me and the Mayor ;-). Which leads us to today's recipe - Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I am a huge fan of mac and cheese, but I had stopped making it because my old recipe is a heart attack on a plate. So, when I was browsing through the many cooking blogs I love, I was intrigued by this recipe and had to try it. It has now become a fairly regular entry on the weekly meal plan. It's healthy AND pretty easy on the budget.
First thing to do - chop your butternut in half, plop it face down in a baking dish and roast it until it looks like this:
After the squash is ready, scoop it into a pot with your milk and chicken stock and blend it together with your nifty immersion blender that you got for Christmas. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend the mixture together in a blender or food processor. I did not do this the first time I made this recipe and the texture was really grainy, so I highly recommend finding SOME way to blend it!
While you are making the sauce, cook your pasta to 'al dente' texture.
Doesn't the sauce look so much prettier?
Then remove the sauce from heat and stir in all your spices, shredded cheeses and ricotta. If your pot is large enough, you can add the pasta directly into the pot and stir until your pasta is well coated. Then transfer it into a greased baking dish.
Top your pasta with a mixture of bread crumbs, cheese and olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then pull off the foil and cook for another 30-40 minutes. Serve yourself a big plate of yummy mac and cheese immediately!
Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe by A Cozy Kitchen
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound) cut in half and roasted
1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups mil
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional - I leave this out because of Little Man)
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 cup of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (4 oz.)
4 tablespoons gryuere or Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce) (I have use other hard cheeses like Romano, as well)
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
butter to coat baking dish
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half and put face down on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, scoop out the seeds and discard. Then scoop out flesh and set aside. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; - blend with immersion blender, blender or food processor and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine. Add cheddar, Parmesan and ricotta cheeses. Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.
Drain noodles and add them into the pot with the cheesy squash sauce.
Lightly grease a 2.5 quart casserole dish with butter. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons gruyere or Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.