Thursday, October 14, 2010

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese

Winter squash is one of the top 5 reasons I love fall. The other reasons, in no particular order, are:
-the word "October"
-hot apple cider
-red leaf sunsets

This pasta only has to do with winter squash. Although I guess you could incorporate the other items on the list somehow. Wear a sweaterwhile making it, and take a break to drink some hot cider and watch the sunset? And, um, say "october?"

Anyway, it's really good. We had planned on making some butternut squash soup on Tuesday to have with our apple and grilled cheddar sandwiches, but by the time we were both home from work and finished with the daily post-daycare wrestling match that Miles requires, the idea of all that roasting and pureeing and whisking seemed daunting. So I baked the squash and just threw it in the fridge to deal with later, and we had salad with our sandwiches.

Last night, though, all that squash was put to very good use in this awesome, easy macaroni and cheese. It took less than an hour to throw together, including the cooking time (it would have taken a little longer if the squash wasn't pre-baked) and it made enough for all three of us to have dinner last night, lunch today, and a little left over to freeze.

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6-8

The amounts written here are really broad suggestions - I didn't have much milk, so I used the rest of the yogurt we had in the fridge, too, but you could use all milk, or all yogurt, or even sour cream or creme fraiche would be nice. Basically, you want to make a cheese sauce however you normally make a cheese sauce (on the thinner side is better here), and then whisk in the pureed squash towards the end.

2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1/2 large butternut squash, baked (or another winter squash - a whole delicata or acorn would be similar)
2 cups milk (we used whole raw milk from Sugar, the cow owned by our CSA farm, but skim would work too)
1 cup yogurt or sour cream
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
garlic salt
1 lb pasta, cooked al dente (we used mini penne, because I have a mini-pasta issue, but anything sturdy works)
bread crumbs
1/2 bunch greens, chopped (we used lacinata kale, but any other sturdy green is fine. I wouldn't use spinach here - it gets too limp)

Preheat oven to 375.

Make a roux with butter, flour and milk. Whisk in yogurt or sour cream until smooth. Heat on medium, then stir in cheese. Cook for a while until starting to thicken, about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, puree the squash in your food processor (or mash well)
Whisk the squash, and garlic salt to taste, into the cheese sauce and cook until it's smooth and thick.

Mix pasta and sauce together in a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

In the sauce pan, sautee up the kale with a little olive oil until just tender. Stir into the pasta

Sprinkle it all with breadcrumbs and bake covered for 20-30 minutes, then uncovered for 5 minutes to crisp up the top a little.

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