For years I thought the reason my mac and cheese wasn’t ooey gooey delicious was because I needed to add more cheese. WRONG. I have learned this year that the secret to good mac and cheese is to start with a béchamel sauce which I just learned actually starts with making roux. Who knew good Mac and Cheese would come with a french lesson. Don’t worry- it sounds fancy and complicated but it’s really easy and you can make this dish in about 30-40 min. Ready?
1 delicata squash
Pasta of your choice
2-3 cups of cheeses of your choice. Sharp cheddar, munster, gruyere etc… I used all sharp cheddar.
1 1/2 cup milk (approximate)
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper, paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
This filled a side dish sized Corelle Ware baking dish. It served the two of us dinner and lunch. So I’d say it makes about 4 servings or maybe 2 large servings.
First get the kitchen ready- turn oven to 425* and put a pot of water on to start boiling.
Then get the food ready by peeling and chopping your beautiful delicate squash into small cubes. Or if you want you could buy butternut squash cubes from the store. However, delicate squash is in my opinion the best squash ever! (pardon the side note on delicate squash..) If you’ve never had one- just wash it, cut it in half and put a little butter or olive oil, salt and pepper on it and roast it in the oven for about 20 min. Then you can eat it whole- seriously- just pick it up and stuff it in your mouth- you won’t regret it! 🙂 The skin in so thin and delicate you can eat it with the squash! Wow!
Back to Mac and Cheese…. So for this recipe peel the skin (although that may be optional with delicate squash) and cut into small cubes then coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven to roast at 425* for about 15-20 min.
Once the water is boiling put half a box of pasta into the water and set the timer for however long it takes for al dente because it will cook a little more in the oven.
Then shred the cheese.. [or use bagged if you like strange added ingredients along with your cheese…bleh!) It’s so much yummier when you shred it fresh anyway.] For half a box of pasta I used what may have been 2 packed cups of cheese.
Then as your pasta is finishing up you should be checking to be sure the squash is roasting nicely.
Sauce: Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter over a medium heat. Then add 2- 3 tablespoons of flour and stir well with a whisk. (You just made a roux!) Turn the heat up a bit and slowly add about 1 1/2 cups of milk- whisking as you add. (You just made béchamel sauce!) Once there are no flour lumps left, whisk in the cheese. You can get fancy with the cheese. The magazine I got this idea from used gruyere, sharp cheddar and parmesan. I used sharp cheddar. We buy a massive block from Costco for about $5 once a month. Use what suits your palate and budget. Whisk until smooth and continue stirring frequently for about 2 minutes so that it thickens up a bit. Remove from heat.
Breadcrumb topping: Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a small skillet. Add 1/2 cup or so of Italian breadcrumbs or plain and add some spices. Even when using Italian I add a little salt, pepper and paprika. Brown lightly then remove from heat.
Put it all together: Layer the pasta, squash and cheese sauce in an oven safe baking dish. Then top with breadcrumbs and bake in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. The cheese sauce will thicken up and it will all meld together. I thought we hadn’t had enough cheese sauce but once it baked in the oven, it came out gooey and all mixed together perfectly.
I hope you like it as much as we did! 🙂