Friday, January 14, 2011

Autumn Mac and Cheese

I love pasta!

I love cheese!

I love cream sauce!

I love wine!
(...there's no wine in this recipe but I felt the need to share)

When you add it all up it's no surprise that Mac n' Cheese is one of my favorite dishes. I've made a few different versions and lately I've been on a kick of adding pureed squash to the sauce. SO YUMMY! This recipe was found on Tasty Kitchen.

It caught my eye for a few reasons:
1. I love that the squash isn't "hidden"
2. It has Brussels sprouts

A word on B. Sprouts...They've gotten a bad reputation. I'll admit until recently I was leading the "B. Sprouts are gross" campaign but I have completely changed my tune. They are so de-lish AND both my girls love them! They are really high in Vitamin C, high in protein for a veggie and have Vitamin D and folic acid...great for those expecting Mamas! What's my point??? DON'T OMIT THE SPROUTS!!!

Here's what you need:

* ½ whole Small Butternut Squash, Peeled And Chopped Into Cubes
* 1 whole Large Apple, Peeled And Chopped
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
* ¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
* ½ whole Sweet Onion, Chopped
* 2 cups Brussels Sprouts, Chopped
* 1 pound Whole Wheat Pasta
* 1 Tablespoon Butter
* 1 Tablespoon Flour
* 2 cups Milk (I Used skim, Was What I Had On Hand)
* 8 ounces, weight Cheese, Grated (I Used Sharp Cheddar)
* ½ cups Parmesan Cheese, Plus More For Topping
* ¼ cups Panko Bread Crumbs (I didn't have Panko so I used regular old crumbs)

**Are you wondering why my cheese says "don't eat" on it??? It's so my hubby won't eat it before I make the pasta. It helps one avoid last minute trips to the market for missing ingredients!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay chopped squash and apples on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping once.

While the squash is roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and Brussels sprouts with a pinch of salt and pan roast for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and begin to cook your pasta.

Set aside squash/apples and sprouts/onion mixture. If pasta is cooked, set it aside as well. Reduce oven heat to 350F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Add the milk while continuing to whisk, and begin adding the cheeses as well. I find that adding cheese in batches about 3 minutes apart works best. Continue to whisk together so the cheese melts and doesn’t stick to the bottom. The entire process takes about 10 minutes and you want the heat on medium-low; this will help thicken the cheese sauce. I find you don’t want it too thick, as it will thicken in the over.
***It's really important no to rush this process or your sauce will be too runny

Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Begin to layer pasta, vegetables and apples, and cheese sauce in batches, just mixing to make sure all is combined. Top with Panko and another sprinkling of Parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

**I didn't layer the dish like they said. I put everything in a large bowl and gently mixed it up. You just need to be careful not to squash the squash!

The best part about this dish is that it's not too overly gooey or cheesy. You really taste all the flavors. DE-LISH!

It makes a very large batch. I don't think it would make a good freezer meal so next time I will split it up and take half to a neighbor.

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