Hope everyone’s February is off to a great start! To kick off this chilly month, our instructors cooked up a classic Allergic to Salad recipe–warm and filling Mac Squash N’ Cheese! This dish makes butternut squash the star, while preserving the integrity of the tastiness that is plain old mac n’ cheese.

Our instructor, Megan, brought 2 pounds of pasta into her class of 20 students–the dish turned out so delish that all 2 pounds were gone by the end of class! To make at home, though, one pound should be sufficient, and you may even have leftovers!

To make our Mac, Squash N’ Cheese sauce we first cook down onions and spices in a pot with butter. Once they’re soft, we stir in flour and cook some more. This is called a roux, and it helps to thicken the sauce for the dish. Making a roux is as simple as combining fat with flour!

Mac, Squash N’ Cheese, photo courtesy of Andrew Lay

Before making the sauce, it’s a good idea to cook your squash so it can roast in the oven while we work on the sauce. If you’ve got a whole butternut squash from the supermarket, this is a great opportunity to practice peeling and chopping with your kiddo. It’s also fun to check out the seeds inside your gourd, almost like carving a pumpkin.

Mac, Squash N’ Cheese, photo courtesy of Megan Taylor

Megan’s class took turns whisking the sauce until it was fully thickened. Once the squash was roasted and the sauce was done, they decided to use a blender to blend the squash and onions together. This creates a smoother texture for the pasta sauce, but you can also leave the squash whole to add a lovely orange color to the dish, like our instructor Andrew’s class did (pictured at the top of the post). He also added some roasted squash seeds as a crunchy topping. You can season to taste at home, and remember that adding extra cheese is never a bad idea!

Mac, Squash N' Cheese

Ingredients

Mac, Squash N' Cheese

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil, for roasting
  • 1 Butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk at room temperature
  • 2 cups grated, aged sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Mac, Squash N' Cheese

  1. Cook the squash either by roasting or steaming. If roasting, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cubed squash with olive oil and spread evenly across a baking sheet. Roast until tender and squash has begun to caramelize, 25 to 45 minutes. Cooking times will vary based on how large or small your squash cubes are cut. If steaming, heat large pot with ½” inch or so of water. Add squash to steaming basket and steam, covered, until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Squash is ready when it is tender enough to easily poke with a fork, but still firm enough to hold it’s shape.

  2. Once squash is cooked, place into a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside. (If using canned squash or pumpkin puree, omit the first two steps.)

  3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10-12 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan(s) on a rack, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

  4. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

  5. Meanwhile, in another pot over medium heat, melt butter then add onion, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until onions are soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in flour, cooking for about 3 minutes. Then stir in milk and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the milk, stirring in until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Stir in butternut squash puree.

  6. Add in mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, and black pepper, stirring to combine. Adjust seasonings and add salt to taste. Add the cheese/butternut squash sauce to pasta until the macaroni is sufficiently coated. Heat until warm. Serve immediately while hot!

 

We hope you all are staying safe and well. We can’t wait to see you soon!

The Allergic to Salad Team

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