Butternut Mac 'n' Cheese
Slice one 2lb butternut squash in two lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Rub edges with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking dish. Roast at 400F for 60 minutes or until flesh is soft and can be easily scooped out. Set aside to cool. (Note: You can microwave a whole butternut squash for 2-3 minutes before cutting in half to make the slicing a bit easier. If you do that, just reduce the roasting time by 5-10 minutes to prevent burning)
Boil approximately 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni in salted water to al dente. Let drain well. Timing-wise, finish the pasta and sauce at approximately the same time.
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 c milk
16oz cheddar/american blend shredded cheese
In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and add onions, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook until onions are soft. Sprinkle the flour over onions and stir using a whisk until no lumps are present. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time, and mix thoroughly before adding more (this will also keep the sauce from getting lumpy). Stir continuously and allow to almost boil as the sauce thickens. Turn off heat, add the cheeses and let melt in hot sauce, stirring until smooth and blended.
Scoop the roasted squash out of the skin and into a large bowl, mashing with a spoon. Stir in the hot drained pasta and combine well, distributing the squash throughout. Stir the sauce into the pasta/squash mixture and combine well. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika if desired and bake at 350F for 30 minutes until bubbly throughout. You can place it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the top if desired, but watch closely to prevent burning. Makes 4-1c servings.
I know this sounds like kind of a crazy recipe, I mean who wants to mess up perfectly good mac and cheese with vegetables? Seriously though, this was absolutely amazing. I happen to like squash a lot, but even if I didn't I think I would like this recipe. The squash adds a velvety texture, cuts down on the amount of cheese needed, seems to prevent those greasy puddles seen in normal homemade mac and cheese, and seems to make the flavor richer without being blatantly detectable. I will definitely be making this one again. YUM!
(photo courtesy A Veggie Venture -- I may have been feeling industrious tonight, but not enough to actually get my camera out.)