Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

I had butternut squash pop up in my garden this year and I was fortunate enough to harvest enough that I gave half of it away to my mother.  Which she accepted happily.  Thank goodness.  I think I brought in 50 pounds for myself alone…

That being said, I’m trying out a few recipes to try and use it up!  I’ve already made a bunch of butternut squash bars and will be making some butternut squash bread soon enough.  This past weekend called for a dish to host with: butternut squash mac n cheese

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 2 cups of puree)
  • 12 oz elbows
  • 24 oz (aka 2 lbs) cauliflower florets
  • 8 oz frozen, chopped spinach
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp  flour
  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Grated Romano cheese
  • 2 cups Breadcrumbs(I toasted 1 cup of Italian + 1 cup Panko in 1 Tbsp butter)

*Preheat the oven to 350 and butter your dish(es).  Mine is a ‘large’ 9*13*4 in dish.  I have extra smaller dishes on hand to bake individual portions in case I feel like I’m going to overflow more than usual.  Mostly because I use measurements as guidelines…*

1. Roast the butternut squash (this can be done ahead of time – I usually will throw this in while I am cooking another meal so that I have it ready the next day).   Remove the flesh from the skin and puree or mash so that its smooth in consistency.  Set aside.

2. Cook the pasta in salty water until al dente.  You want a decent amount of bite so that the pasta can stand to cook a little while it bakes in the cheese mixture.

3. Cook the cauliflower and combine with the pasta.  I cheated and used frozen that I ‘cooked’ in the microwave…  Same for the spinach.  They still count as veggies, just a little less work…

4. Make a roux by melting butter then adding in flour and spices.  Stir and cook this mixture until the flour begins to turn a light golden color and smells fragrant.  If you’re brave, continue cooking until the flour is a dark golden color.  This is where I tend to bring my roux but taking this step just a little too far will result in a burnt flavor.  So long as the flour is cooked, you’re good.  Add in the milk slowly while stirring constantly.  Do not stop until any possibly lumps have been eliminated!  If you add the milk stepwise, you stop the cooking process of the flour and can mix the milk and flour mixture well.  I go by about half cup additions (1/2+1/2+1).  Then add in the butternut squash and cheese.

5. Combine the pasta/cauli + sauce then topped with breadcrumbs then bake in the oven until the dish bubbles along the edges and into the middle a bit.  This took me about an hour.

 

Inspiration: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/butternut-mac-and-cheese/ and https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese-with-crispy-sage

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