Monday, December 16, 2013

Mac and Cheese with Squash

I am not really the type to "sneak" veggies into things because I am fortunate enough to have kids who are at least willing to tolerate them (if not enjoy them) when they are perfectly visible.  However, when faced with the opportunity to make a family favorite healthier by adding pureed acorn squash, I decided to go for it.  Little did I know that not only would it be healthier, it would taste awesome, too.  My family gobbled up this delicious mac and cheese!

  • 1 acorn squash (I used one a little larger than a softball and have used some slightly smaller, as well)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups (dry) penne pasta
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheese to suit your tastes)
  • 1/2 cup panko 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp, sturdy knife, halve the acorn squash.  Remove seeds and place on a baking sheet, skin side down.  Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 50 minutes, until fork tender. (Time saving tip: I bake multiple squashes at once and save the others for other dishes or freeze to use in this dish at a later date.)
  3. While water is boiling for the pasta, scrape the cooked squash from the skin and place in a food processor or high speed blender with 1/2 cup of milk.  Blend until pureed.
  4. While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the flour and nutmeg, whisk for 2-3 minutes.  Add remaining milk, whisk until smooth.
  5. Increase heat and bring the flour/milk mixture to a boil, whisking the entire time.  Once thickened, turn the heat to low and whisk in the squash and rosemary and salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Add the cooked macaroni to the mixture and combine thoroughly.
  7. Pour half of the noodle and sauce mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top.  Add the remaining noodle mixture and then the other cup of cheese.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until melted and bubbling.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Difficulty: medium (but oh so worth it)
Time: 50 minutes to bake the squash (can be done ahead), 20 minutes hands-on, and 25-30 minutes baking time
Source: adapted from multiple sources, including

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