Mac and cheese is one if my all time favourite comfort-foods, especially when it's cold outside. But the health-nut in me is always on the look-out for healthier-yet-still-delicious versions of the classic, so when a friend mentioned that she had tried "butternut squash mac and cheese" I was inpired to create my own squash mac and cheese recipe.
Squash is not only in-season right now, but it's also extremely nutritious and yummy. In fact, squash is loaded full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as fibre which are all important for proper health. Squash has a naturally sweet taste and soft texture, which makes it appealing to kids and adults who aren't particularly fond of most bitter-tasting vegetables.
My favourite variety is acorn squash, roasted in the oven with some olive oil and garlic, so we often seem to have leftovers in the fridge around this time of year. Although I don't ever hide the fact that I'm adding vegetables into dishes like mac and cheese, soups or casseroles, no one in my family guessed that there was squash in this recipe until I told them. It was a hit and we've served it several times since. My husband--the one who loves kraft dinner more than anything--even raves about it.
* To roast the acorn squash, cut it in half, scoop out the middle (seeds etc.) and discard, drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown on top and flesh is soft and easy to scoop out
In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine the roasted squash, butter, chicken broth, milk, garlic powder, dry mustard, and pepper. Stir constantly while heating (for approx. 5-10 minutes).
Remove from heat and blend all of the ingredients by either transfering to a blender or food processor and blending until smooth, or using an immersion hand-held blender and blending right in the pot until smooth. Once blended, add the sauce back into the pot, and slowly add the cheese, mixing constantly until all of the cheese is melted.
Add cooked pasta and gently stir until coated with the sauce. Transfer macaroni and cheese into a large serving dish and allow to cool for a few minutes prior to serving.
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