I like blogging because I like to talk about and share what I’m eating and cooking. But a necessary evil of having any kind of website, even a blog, are computer problems. I’ve been plagued with Internet problems all week. I wanted to get this up on Tuesday, but Monday night my Internet (and I’m told everyone’s in the area who subscribes to the local provider of cable Internet) was out. Then, Tuesday night, the Internet service was back up and running, but it ran off without making sure my computer was on board. And, I’m not an IT person. My “IT Department” (i.e., my brother) tried to walk me through fixing it over the phone, but it’s beyond my capabilities, even with phone technical support. So, I am sitting with my laptop right beside my modem with it plugged directly into my computer just so I can get this post out of the way… That’s how much I like blogging, I suppose.
You’ll be THANKFUL that I did. (Did ya see what I did there? Har har.)
I had some chunked up winter squash in the freezer from last year that I wanted to use before I get ready to put this year’s squash in the freezer. I think it was a Long Island Cheese variety, which is like a cross between butternut and pumpkin. I had a gallon-size zip top bag of it already cut into chunks, and I’ve been putting it in just about everything for the past week. I’ve made muffins and scones and oatmeal with the puree from the chunks, but I thought it would be great to roast them and add them to some mac and cheese, for some savory and non-breakfast winter squash love.
I actually like winter squash better in savory dishes than I do the sweet stuff. It actually pairs fantastically with cheese. Hence mac and cheese. I am just all about the hearty winter casseroles and things coming out of the oven now that it’s chilly. Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? I’m actually a big fan of putting all sorts of vegetables in it, too. You probably recall my Dreamfields pasta caramelized fennel mac and cheese. It’s great to experiment with adding things to it once you get a good base recipe down pat.
Roasted Winter Squash Mac and Cheese (serves 4 as a main course)
- 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni (I used Dreamfields)
- 2 cups winter squash cut into bite-size cubes (I used Long Island Cheese)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tb unsalted butter
- 3 Tb all purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz. fontina, shredded
- 2 oz. sharp white cheddar, shredded
- 4 Tb bread crumbs
- 1 Tb unsalted butter
- 3 Tb shredded parmesan
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the winter squash in a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast 25 to 30 minutes uncovered, turning once, until the edges get browned. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until just al dente. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat and add the flour. Stir well to combine to a paste and continuing stirring a minute or two until the color begins to deepen to a golden brown. Whisk in the milk until you don’t see any lumps. Continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg with salt and pepper to taste. Add the shredded fontina and cheddar cheese and stir well to combine. Mix the cooked pasta, roasted squash and cheese sauce well to get everything coated. Melt the other tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the mac and cheese mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
This is so easy it’s not even funny. And you could really wow some folks if you bring this as a side dish for your Thanksgiving feast. Because everyone goes crazy for mac and cheese, young and old. It’s so good, you might want to make extra so you have some leftover for yourself when Thanksgiving dinner is over.