While every dish that comes out the Allergic to Salad cookbooks has its enthusiasts, some of those recipes soar to celebrity status. Mac, Squash and Cheese is one of those superstars. As Allergic to Salad educator Anna put it, “Students loved the recipe and were very enthusiastic about making it. One of the more successful ones.” Our educator Erika at Anderson also let us know that “The kids loved this recipe! Some had thirds and fourths!” Allergic to Salad educator Erica added that “Mac and cheese is always a crowd favorite! A huge hit!” She even said that the yummy smells of the recipe filled the school which prompted visitors to come by and see what they were making. Our educator Christy also shared resounding success: “They loved this recipe and gobbled it all up. We used a smoked gouda and cheddar cheese with a tri-color pasta. I love all the technique and talking points of this recipe. They made a perfect velvety sauce.”
Like all of our recipes, this recipe included a culinary education that goes beyond great taste. Erika noted that this recipe was a good tool for practicing knife skills and proper grating technique. She also instructed students to take turns seasoning which allowed for building real-world teamwork and sharing skills.
At Playlab 133, our educator Erica explained the roots of the dish and how it came to the United States. She also mentioned that while her class was initially skeptical about the introduction of a vegetable into a beloved classic veggie-free dish, “everybody ended up loving it in the end!” She noted grating cheese was an especially popular activity while making the Mac, Squash and Cheese.
Mac, Squash and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for roasting
- 1 butternut squash peeled and cubed into quarter or half-inch pieces, or two 15 ounce cans of pumpkin/butternut squash puree
- 1 pound dried pasta of choice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ white onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk, at room temperature
- 2 cups grated aged sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- Salt, to taste
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 the cubes of squash are cut into. 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.
Once squash is cooked, place in food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside. (If using canned squash or pumpkin puree, omit the first two steps.)
Cook pasta according to package instructions. 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.
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!
At IS 187, Erica also gave a brief introduction to the history of dairy production. She said “We also discussed the process of pasteurization and how this helped many people to not get sick anymore.” She also emphasized how getting one’s dairy from small local farms better ensures happy lives for the cows that provide our dairy.
We hope you are starstruck whipping up your own Mac, Squash and Cheese!
And to our young chefs – keep cooking!
Team Allergic to Salad