Butternut Squash and Sage Mac & Cheese

1/2 medium butternut squash, cooked, pureed, strained

1/2 pound elbow macaroni OR your favorite pasta

4 tablespoons butter

1 small leek or onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 chili pepper, finely chopped (optional)

4 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

2 cups shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand, cheddar, mozza, gouda, parmesan, etc)

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablepsoon melted butter

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain well. Set aside. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter is melted add onion or leek, garlic, and chili pepper (if using). Saute lightly until soft and fragrant, then whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups of milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. After sauce has thickened, turn heat to low and whisk in butternut squash mixture. Stir in the fresh sage, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni to the pot and stir until the macaroni noodles are well coated. Add the cheese, and a touch of milk if the mixture is too thick.

Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. Pour half of the macaroni noodles into the pan. In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes at 375F, or until macaroni and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

 

How to Roast a Whole Squash or Pumpkin

1. Cut the squash or pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds.

2. Smear butter or olive oil over the flesh and sprinkle sea salt and pepper.

3. Roast flesh up on a baking sheet at 425F degrees for 1 hour, until flesh is soft. (If flesh is getting to dark, flip over so the skin faces up)

4. Serve hot as a side dish OR allow to cool completely. Scoop out flesh into a food processor and pulse until completely smooth. Strain slightly if the flesh is to moist. Use this puree in soups, cakes, biscuits or creamy sauces. This puree also freezes beautifully!

How to Roast Cubed Butternut Squash, or any firm squash that are easy to peel

1. Peel the skin, then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.

2. Cube the squash and toss onto a baking sheet with melted butter or olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

3. Roast at 425F degrees for 45 minutes – you can go less time if you want more “bite” to your squash.

TIPS: Dress up your roasted whole or cubed squash with maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, herbs, or a pinch of chili pepper!

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