Creamy Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8. Recipe is by Helana Brigman.
5 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces
11/2 cups milk (I used skim)
11/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use vegetable for vegetarian-friendly recipe)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 (16-oz.) box elbow macaroni
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (see note)
Panko bread crumbs, for garnishing
Paprika, optional, for garnishing
1. Peel, seed and cube butternut squash then set aside. In a nonstick medium-sized saucepan, bring the milk, broth and garlic to a simmer. Add squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender (about 20 to 25 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare elbow macaroni according to package instructions. Remember to keep the two rules of pasta in mind: The water should taste like “sea water” (so the pasta has flavor), and the pasta should be cooked al dente (firm, but still tender). Strain and reserve for cheese sauce. Do not rinse in cold water.
3. When squash is tender, remove from heat and transfer to a food processor or blender. Pulse until puréed (about 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and well-blended) and pour purée into a bowl. Since squash will be hot, be mindful of steam when processing. Mix Parmesan and blue cheese then fold in macaroni. Pour macaroni and cheese into a greased baking dish (about 9 inches by 13 inches will do) and garnish with panko bread crumbs and paprika, if using. Bake until golden and bubbly on top; about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for several minutes before serving.
Note: Not a fan of blue cheese? Try switching your proportions to 1 1/4 cups Parmesan and 3/4 cup blue or substituting the blue cheese with mozzarella or cheddar.