Hiding the veggies

Sure we had a gorgeous couple of months there while we "welcomed the world", but Mother Nature appears to have exhausted herself and Vancouver has descended once again into a cold, rainy spell. Time for comfort food! Just before you look at the longish list of ingredients I'll point out that you can also really simplify this recipe by omitting the spices (except s&p) and the garlic. And I'm sure you can get away with only using cheddar instead of also using parmesan.

Butternut Squash Mac N' Cheese

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and grated (about 3 cups)
1 cup broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp smoke paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole wheat spirals or elbow macaroni (this was the whole package for me)
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil cooking spray, to grease baking pan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on the package but minus two minutes so it's a little underdone. Drain and set aside after rinsing with cold water.

Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. I used a hand blender and it got very velvety. Stir in nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, pepper and salt. Beat egg in a small bowl, add to hot liquid and quickly blend again to incorporate egg.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine pasta, squash mixture, garlic, grated cheddar and 2 Tbsp of grated parmesan and mix well.

Lightly coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish.

In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodles.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 20 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately. Makes 8 medium servings or 6 big servings.

Ok, yes, you can taste the squash, but it loses a strong veggie taste and the dish is just velvety, creamy deliciousness. Because you replace most of the traditional cheese in homemade macaroni with squash, this is also really light in fat and has truck loads of healthy fiber. Go Go Gadget colon!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:00 p.m.

    I do want to try this, since hiding veggies is a big part of our life now. But, I am a little confused as to why I need to pierce grated squash with a fork. Should the squash be in chunks or grated when simmering?