My family loves macaroni and cheese, especially when the nights are still cold. But who needs all that gluey pasta? No one—so I came up with this somewhat lighter version that seems to satisfy everyone. Squash adds flavor and color!
Crunchy Mac ’n’ Cheese
Yield: Serves 4 very generously
9”x 9” baking pan, food processor
1 tablespoon butter
cooked flesh of 1 large acorn squash
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
1/4 cup yogurt, ricotta or cream cheese
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 cups rotini or other medium-sized pasta
2 cups chopped romanesque or cauliflower florets
1/2 cup cornbread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place two cups of water in baking pan.
Wash the squash and trim off its stem end. Lay squash on its now flat stem end on a cutting board and slice it in half. Scoop out seeds with a spoon and reserve them for another use. Place squash halves cut-side down in water in baking pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until squash flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Allow squash to cool somewhat before removing flesh.
Discard any remaining water from baking pan. Add butter to baking pan. After butter has melted, shake pan to coat its bottom with butter.
Place all sauce ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth—some small chunks of squash are fine.
Boil pasta for five minutes. Add romanesque and continue to cook for one minute. Drain and place in buttered pan.
Pour sauce over pasta mixture to cover. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until top is browned.
Serve warm and enjoy.
This dish is vegetarian. To make it gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs.