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  • Nov

    Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

    By Elle Penner, RD
     

    It’s no secret that carb-loading on pasta is always a great way to fuel up before a big race or a weekend swim meet – and it’s an especially easy meal to cook for big groups. It’s also a crowd favorite, so you rarely have disappointed team members at the end of a pasta party dinner.

    But if you’re always making the same spaghetti Bolognese or pasta and meatballs for the team, it’s definitely worth mixing it up once in a while to take advantage of seasonal vegetables and flavors.

    Butternut squash is one vegetable that has a late summer and fall harvest, although it is readily available year-round due to the fact that it’s easy to store and travels well with its tough outer skin.

    I’ve found that if you combine butternut squash with an old favorite, like mac and cheese, to make butternut squash mac and cheese, you’ll have a lot of happy young diners with smiles on their faces.

    The key with this recipe is to use several tasty, high-quality cheeses and having an immersion blender. I also like to mix in a little greek yogurt for added creaminess. One variation on this is to roast the butternut squash in advance for more sweetness and richer palate from the butternut. If you decide to do that, cut the butternut squash into cubes and then roast it for about 20-25 mins after drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper. You’ll need to use a little more liquid in the recipe if you’ve roasted the squash in advance.

    Otherwise, just follow the recipe below and enjoy your pre-race training meal!

    Makes about 8 servings (6 for hungry swimmers!)

    • 4 cups (generous) butternut squash, cubed and peeled
    • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 1/4 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
    • 1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1 cup grated White Cheddar cheese
    • 1 box (1 lb) large elbow noodles, cooked al dente

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and cook the elbow noodles al dente as directed on the packaging.  Combine cubed butternut squash, chicken broth, milk and garlic and bring to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until squash is tender. Or if you’ve roasted the squash in advance, just heat until simmer. Remove from heat.

    Mix in the Greek yogurt, salt, pepper (you can skip the salt/pepper if you’ve roasted) and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Stir in Gruyere and Romano cheeses until melted and then fold in pasta.  Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and pour everything in.

    Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn oven to low broil. For added touch, sprinkle cheddar cheese over macaroni and return to oven for an additional 5-7 minutes until cheese has browned and some edges of noodles are crisp.

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