This year I’ve really been enjoying the flavors of fall. Typically I find fall a little depressing probably because I love summer so much but this year I’ve actually enjoyed it. Not the cold weather, but definitely the food. Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream may have something to do with that. Seriously though I’ve recently realized just how delicious all the seasonal fall flavors can be, like the different kinds of squash that emerge, including my new favorite, delicata squash.
This dish is hearty, comforting and is definitely perfect for fall because of the butternut squash. The squash becomes the sauce in this recipe and is tossed with pasta shells and lots of sharp cheddar cheese. Then it’s topped with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and baked off in the oven. Quintessential comfort food. There are lots of variations on butternut squash mac and cheese but this is the way I make it.
2 pounds butternut squash peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
salt & pepper
1/4 ground nut meg
1 chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
4 oz. light cream cheese
4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 pound of whole grain pasta shells
4 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the squash on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes.
2. Once the squash is done, turn the oven to 375. Combine the squash, nutmeg, chicken stock and milk in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add in the pasta. Cook until al dente.
4. Drain the pasta and transfer back into the pot right away. Stir in the squash mixture, cheddar cheese, cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
5. Transfer to a baking dish.
6. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon olive oil and bread crumbs together.
7. Sprinkle the parmesan bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
8. Turn the broiler on high, uncover the casserole dish, and broil for 3-4 minutes until the topping is golden brown.