MAC AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT


Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to work with during the fall and winter because it just exudes a sweet, hearty, warmth. When it’s roasted, all the sugars caramelize and the flavor of the squash is intensified. Pair it with the other star ingredient in this dish, the aged Gouda, and we have ourselves a sweet-and-savory home run!

The technique to making this dish is pretty standard as far as mac and cheese goes. After sautéing the onions and sage, a roux is made with flour, chicken stock, and milk. Then the squash is added to the mix and smashed in a bit to fully incorporate.

After that, comes the magic of toppings. I loved how the nutty spice of the Amaretti cookies played with the flavor of the pumpkin in the Tortelli di Zucca. In this mac and cheese, that sweet, unexpected crunch translates as gingersnaps. I also threw in a handful of chopped pecans too because I love how their faintly maple flavor goes with sweet potatoes, and I thought…butternut squash? Sweet potato? Pretty similar, no? (At the very least, both orange.)

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 kg), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1 ½ cups nonfat milk
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
2 cups grated aged Gouda cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup crumbled gingersnap cookies (about 8 cookies)
½ cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper to season. Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside and turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente according to the package instructions, about 8 minutes.

3. While the pasta cooks, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the butter, chopped onion, and sage. Saute about 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the flour and stir to combine. Let the mixture cook for 1-2 more minutes. Whisk in stock and milk, and let come to a boil to thicken up.

4. Next, add the cheeses, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Then, mix in the squash. Use a whisk to mash-up the squash a little. I prefer to leave a few chunky pieces of the squash in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and combine well. Pour the mac n cheese into a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the gingersnap cookie crumble and pecans over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil.

6. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes more.

I may not be able to jet-set to Italy whenever I get the craving for some tortelli lovin’, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get my fix of pumpkin and spice and everything nice! Surprise your guests with this dish this winter. The presentation is beautiful and homey, and one bite will have them coming for more.  Enjoy!!

16 Responses to “MAC AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT”

  1. lifeinarecipe Says:

    I love butternut squash and this recipe looks heavenly…what a great comfort food! With winter down there your recipes are almost having me wish for fall…almost, but not quite…I think I want to have summer here first!

  2. Your recipes and photos are so good – and for some reason they always find me just as I check my e-mails before making supper. Now I’m REALLY HUNGRY. I too am in the midst of summer, but I’m pretty sure our local store has it – they probably import it from you guys. I’ll just have to try this out for tomorrow night’s supper. Thanks!

  3. Oh my God, this sounds so wonderful. They have me on a liquid diet for two weeks after surgery. Yuk! As soon as I can have other stuff, this is the first thing I’m going to make. The gouda is a refreshing change. Squash – any kind is always great – and the topping is so very original. Yum! … Off now to have my drink . . . Phew! Thanks for the great post and something to look forward to.

  4. This sounds so delicious… I have been wanting to try all the recipes you have shared on your blog…will start soon. Thanks for sharing, they all sound sooooogood. Heartspell

  5. Heartspell, I am a sucker for good food…and then have to work my “butt” off after…we can’t be good at everything, can we? ~ Hugs xx

  6. […] Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to work with during the fall and winter because it just exudes a sweet, hearty, warmth. When it’s roasted, all the sugars caramelize and the flavor of the squash is intensified. Pair it with the other star ingredient in this dish, the aged Gouda, and we have ourselves a sweet-and-savory home run! The technique to making this dish is pretty standard as far as mac and cheese goes. After sautéing th … Read More […]

  7. […] This recipe is reminiscent of the pumpkin and butternut squash ravioli that old friends in Brooklyn used to make . . . but it’s a lot easier to prepare. For my wheat-and-gluten free version I substituted the following: – Pacific Natural Foods Free-Range Chicken Broth, gluten-free – Organic Valley Milk, gluten-free -Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour, wheat-and-gluten free – Mi-Del Gluten-free ginger snaps, wheat-and-gluten free (but not manufactured in a dedicated facility) – and Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta. Perfectly wonderful. Try it. Thanks, Amanda. Butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients to work with during the fall and winter because it just exudes a sweet, hearty, warmth. When it’s roasted, all the sugars caramelize and the flavor of the squash is intensified. Pair it with the other star ingredient in this dish, the aged Gouda, and we have ourselves a sweet-and-savory home run! The technique to making this dish is pretty standard as far as mac and cheese goes. After sautéing th … Read More […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: