I had never had Mac&Cheese before I came to the US. At first, I wasn't very interested in a dish that most often is prepared with artificial cheese and has tons of butter and/or cream. But when I kept coming a cross recipes for Mac&Cheese variations, I got interested in trying it out. I especially like the ones that use vegetables, pureed in the cheese sauce; like Mac & Cheese with Bell Pepper. I adapted this recipe from the blog Plate Fodder. I doubled the recipe to have some go-to freezer meals for busy days. I used tri-color rotini pasta for this dish but regular elbow macaroni or other short pasta work just as well. There is a lot of sauce in this dish, so make sure you cook the pasta just about al dente, so it still has some bite after baking. The pureed squash gives the dish an interesting texture, too. We liked this dish and I am looking forward to eating it again.
Ingredients (6-8 servings as main dish):
1 kg butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups low-fat milk
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp light sour cream
350 g grated Gruyère cheese
225 g grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2-3 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 pound tri-color rotini pasta (or other short pasta)
Preheat oven to 375F. Cook pasta as per instructions until just about al dente. Drain. For the sauce, combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (stir often to make sure the milk doesn't scorch). Simmer for about 25 minutes until squash is soft. Remove from heat. Using either a hand-held mixer or food processor, puree the squash mix. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyère, Pecorino, and parsley. Grease a large (about 13" by 18") baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Add pasta mix to the baking dish. Mix breadcrumbs and parmesan and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned. Serve with a side salad.