Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

This entrée is excellent–so flavorful and rich tasting although it uses low-fat ingredients.  You will not notice the lack of fats here, although the final product will be slightly less creamy than traditional mac and cheese.

Instead of making a cheese sauce in the usual way, this recipe uses ricotta cheese and pureed squash to give this familiar dish is creaminess.  I also added a little low-fat sour cream to the squash-cheese mixture to further ensure its creaminess.  For the bread crumb topping, I used seasoned crumbs and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.  A nice mixture that retained its crunch for a contrast to the macaroni.   The addition of nutmeg to the sauce is important as it brings out the sweetness of the squash, and enhances any cream sauce.

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Although this dish is a departure from the standard mac and cheese we enjoyed it.  I served it with ham and a salad for a complete meal.  Any leftovers warmed up nicely in the microwave, with just a drizzle of milk to bring back its creaminess.

MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)IMG_5688
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  1/2 cups non-fat milk
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4  oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp. fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Combine squash, chicken broth, and milk in a medium saucepan;  bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper.  Stir to combine.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add macaroni; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.  Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

Adding cheese to the squash and macaroni mixture.

3.  Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4-inches deep) with cooking spray.  Transfer macaroni mixture to dish.  In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, and oil;  sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

Crumb topping ready to be sprinkled over the top.

4.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 – 40 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Browned and bubbly.  Ready for the table.

Browned and bubbly. Ready for the table.

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SOURCE:  Martha Stewart Living

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