Winter is coming. All of you Game of Thrones
nerds fans (or really Song of Ice and Fire fans, yea I got real nerdy) know what this means. For those of you who don’t know, one of the great houses in the series, the Starks, use the term as their house words. While the words really have little to do with the following recipe, but I did want to point out that cooking with butternut squash signals that Fall is here and winter is coming. Winter brings with it stews and chili and other dishes like it.
The other night I was actually thinking that despite the wide variety of produce available in the summer, I find that I might cook more in the Winter. You’re less likely to go out in the cold (if you live somewhere that gets cold) and cook hearty heavy warming meals. Mac and Cheese is an all year round dish, but butternut squash mac and cheese? Not so much. I found a number of recipes and opted for the one that was closest to how I make regular mac and cheese. Here you make a bechamel and add roasted squash and puree until smooth. This would be a great Turkey Day dish or a nice side along with something else.
Recipe Based on Two Peas & Their Pod
~ 1.5 cups butternut squash, cubed (seeded and skin removed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
10 oz pound elbow macaroni
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary (or 2 teaspoons crushed, dried rosemary)
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup panco bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place butternut squash chunks on a large baking sheet . Pour olive oil over the squash and toss. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender, turning once.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, drain well. Set aside.
Add butternut squash to food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add in 1/2 cup of the milk and puree again. This will help thin out the butternut squash.
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter is melted whisk in the flour. Add the nutmeg. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, whisking constantly, or until flour mixture smells nutty. Add the remaining 2 cups of milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk.
After sauce has thickened, turn off heat and add butternut squash chunks. Using a hand blender, puree until smooth. (Alternatively, add mixture to a food processor or blender and puree. Work in batches, as you don’t to add too much liquid to either device) Stir in the fresh rosemary. Add the cooked pasta to the saucepan and stir until the macaroni noodles are well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. Pour half of the pasta, Sprinkle half of the jack cheese. Add the remaining noodles and then top with the rest of the jack cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan on top.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until macaroni and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm.