Comfort Food: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Picture courtesy of Savory Spicy Sweet
Mac and Cheese may possibly be the best comfort food. Maybe? Pasta and cheese? Can't really go wrong there. This recipe that I found on Savory Spicy Sweet sparked my interest...I love squash, I love pasta, and I love cheese. A while back, I had tried another lighter version of Mac and Cheese that used carrots. It was good and I may make it again, but it was not spectacular. I am not sure I would necessarily even consider it a Mac and Cheese dish. It was more just like another variety of pasta. The cheese wasn't really that prevalent, and I think that for Mac and Cheese, you should definitely be able to taste the cheese! Seems pretty reasonable, right? So I came across this recipe and wanted to give it a go. The butternut squash is a much better match with the cheese. It is more potato-like which blends well with the cheeses that are used (ricotta, cheddar and Parmesan) and gives the dish a smoother texture than the carrots had.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese adapted from Savory Spicy Sweet
* 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound) , peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
* 1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
* 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
* Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
* Pinch of cayenne pepper
* 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 pound elbow macaroni
* 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
* 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
* 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* Olive-oil cooking spray
* 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
4. 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.
I altered a few things. For one..I made this for myself, so I cut the recipe in half. I used both ricotta and cottage cheese, and also added extra cayenne pepper for a little extra kick. When you are ready to serve it, you may want to consider ketchup. I grew up putting ketchup on my Mac and Cheese. (I don't think that's weird? Maybe it is? Oh well.) It adds a tomato-y sweetness to this savory dish.
I will definitely make this again...and hopefully share it with others!