Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Mac & Cheese with Squash
Now I know what you're thinking. Why would I ever go searching for another macaroni and cheese recipe when I've already found the best one ever? Well, for starters I wasn't searching...it just sort of fell in my lap. But I'm quite okay with having two wonderful mac & cheese dishes up my sleeve, especially when they are worlds apart from each other.
Unlike my all time favourite, this dish gets lots of its creaminess from butternut squash. I think the balance between the cheese and the squash is just perfect. It doesn't taste like it's desperately trying to be healthy, hiding vegetables between cheesy noodles. It tastes like the squash has just as much of a right to be there as the cheese. Like it's been there all along and you've never even noticed.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart (whom I think should be crowned the queen of mac & cheese) and I paired it with sauteed brussels sprouts drizzled with lemon. Yum!
1 pound (approx 3 cups) of chopped and peeled butternut squash
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup stock
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of macaroni (usually 1 box)
4 ounces (about 1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese*
1 ounce (about 4 tablespoons) parmesan cheese (half reserved)
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs**
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese***
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring milk, stock, and chopped squash to a boil in a pot, then turn down to medium heat and cook until squash is tender (about 20 mins). Remove from heat, mash contents of pot and add spices.
Meanwhile, bring pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni till just before al dente (I like to let the oven cook it the rest of the way to avoid overcooked mushy noodles). Remove from heat and drain in a colander.
Add grated cheese to squash mixture in pot, stir well until melted and then add macaroni.
Toss breadcrumbs with oil and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
Pour macaroni into a casserole dish and cover with breadcrumbs mixture.
Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
*I used smoked gruyere instead
** I actually skipped the breadcrumbs because I just didn't have any but would have loved to have more texture involved, so I'll definitely be doing this next time.
*** I used soft goat cheese instead