It’s amazing how much better life is, with mac and cheese in it.
I can’t help but laugh to think about my younger days when mac and cheese was my all-time favorite thing to eat. I’m talking the phosphorescent Kraft stuff, people.
I was a foodie even back then, but my definition of gourmet was to throw a few flecks of bacon it in to spruce it up.
As I got older and my kids came along, I got all snobby and started adding lobster to my mac & cheese – especially if friends were coming over. I’d even add truffles to impress them,
But then I realized something: lobster mac kinda defeats the whole idea of a cheap comfort food! It’s way too expensive, anyway, and not nearly the same food that I had as a kid. Back to basics for me.
So I decided to stop using lobster. But I was still a food snob – what to do? I realized that I needed a new ingredient.
That’s when I came across butternut squash as a delicious alternative. Especially for the Fall, when most people hunker-down over a bowl of hot cheesy pasta. Mmmm.
Here’s the recipe that I hope you’ll love as much as I do. I like to call this my own special mix on butternut mac and cheese. Not only is it healthier than stuffing bacon or ham into it, the butternut squash adds a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor that really compliments a true, original mac and cheese. Without making it too snobby ;O
- 1 lb macaroni – I used penne or tubatini
- 10 ounces butternut squash chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 of a white onion
- 1/4 cup of white flour
- 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano
- Pepper and nutmeg
After you have all of the ingredients gathered, then comes the fun part; it’s time to start cooking!
- First, put the water into a pot and turn it onto high heat to boil.
- Once things start to get warm, throw in just a dash of salt. The salt helps make the noodles “al dente,” which means that its soft enough to eat but not too mushy so that it’s unenjoyably.
- While we are waiting for the pasta to cook, start heating up a pot over medium heat.
- Once it starts to warm up, add the butter and olive oil. Spread the two around so they cover the entire surface area of the pot.
- Cut up the thyme and onion and toss into with the butter and olive oil.
- Add the chopped butternut squash to the pan and let the combination cook for about 2-5 minutes or until you get a nice caramelized color.
- Add the chicken stock and cook until the mixture thickens a bit.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a roux. Add the milk to the roux slowly, stirring constantly.
- Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick.
Time to scarf it down.