“Autumn is second spring, when every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus
As the weather gets colder the desire for comfort food increases and the longing for the familiar is back. I love sitting on a couch wrapped in my favorite blanket with a bowl of something comforting and a favorite TV show. I’m ready to say goodbye to anything that reminds me of summer and move on to one of my favorite seasons. Bring on the scarves, booties and oversized sweaters. Bring on the pumpkins, mums and festive fall decorations. It’s apple picking time and I can’t wait to go.
Mac n Cheese, the ultimate comfort food, the pinnacle of all things cheesy. Everyone loves it. It’s classic, it’s delicious and it pleases even the pickiest eater. Using butternut squash is a great way to add flavor, slash the fat and add valuable nutrients to a timeless classic.
Simply make the butternut puree first by cooking small chunks of squash in water and then blend it to create a smooth velvety texture. It’s important to add the cooking liquid because it contains all the important vitamins lost during boiling.
Wanna take it a step further? Add a generous amount of salt, pepper and fat free half & half and you got yourself a delicious butternut squash soup. Since this recipe only calls for half of the squash I say it’s a fine idea. Of course, you can also roast it and make a delicious salad with walnuts, greens and blue cheese crumbles.
I’m getting myself pretty hungry here.
You’ll just have to make it for yourself.
Have a fabulous weekend.
- ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 lb shell pasta
- 4 oz yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup 1% milk
- 3 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- bacon, cut into small strips, optional
- salt to taste
- In a large skillet, brown bacon, if using. Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
- Drain most of the fat reserving 1 tbsp.
- Add butternut squash to a medium sauce pan, cover with just enough water and bring to a boil. Cook about 15-20 minutes until the squash is nice and soft. Transfer to a blender with some of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth adding more cooking liquid if necessary. Add milk and salt to taste and blend to combine.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain.
- To the skillet with the reserved bacon fat, add onion, garlic and thyme. Cook until the onion starts to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in cream cheese, pasta, butternut puree and cheddar cheese, reserving about ¼ cup.
- Stir to combine, transfer to a baking dish, top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles. Bake under a broiler until the cheese melts about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it or the cheese can burn.