Who doesn’t love homemade mac and cheese?
This is some good stuff. Cheese is totally my comfort food. In fact–and this is not a lie–one month J counted all the cheeses we had in the fridge and swears he found 14. Yeah, time to cut back! I love this recipe because it is a healthy twist on a favorite comfort food. The first time I had this recipe at a friend’s house, I had no idea that it had squash in it…I only knew that is was delicious. The squash has a way of keeping the cheese sauce nice and creamy and smooth, plus, you’ll be getting an extra serving of veggies. If you ask me, this is a win-win kinda meal. By the way, this dish makes a boatload of mac and cheese so if you are just a family of 2-3, you’ll probably wanna half it.
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray
- 1 pound macaroni with lines, such as mini penne rigate or shells
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 1/2 medium onion extra-finely diced
- 2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 3 T all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen cooked butternut squash, defrosted (I could only find regular frozen squash which was less sweet but worked just fine)
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Black pepper
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 T butter, melted
Cook the pasta according to package directions, until al-dente (with a little bite to it). While pasta cooks, heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and onion. Let it cook for1 to 2 minutes, then add flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes. Whisk in stock, then combine with butternut squash until warmed through and smooth. Stir in half-and-half and bring sauce to a bubble. Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce. Pour pasta and cheese into a greased 9×13 baking dish. In a small side bowl, mix the bread crumbs, butter and a pinch of salt until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese and broil on high for a few minutes until the top is golden, watching carefully so you don’t burn it like I did. 🙂