Squash Mac and Cheese
What? How dare someone befoul my beloved mac and cheese?! I like Kraft Dinner or the really orange mac and cheese! Don’t I? Whoa. Hold your horses. Before you get all worked up about what is real food and not real food. I do like my box of orange cheese powder. I really do. But, I just had to try something new. And, uhm … I liked it. Look for yourself:
Who is the evil genius behind this masterpiece? Again, Rachel Ray comes to the rescue. And, of course, I took a few liberties with my modifications. Here’s the original recipe:
1 pound of macaroni
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
10 oz frozen, cooked squash
1 cup cream or half/half
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente. While pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and butter. When butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and grate the onion directly into the pot with a hand held grater or microplane. Cook the grated onion in butter and oil 1 to 2 minutes, then add the flour and cook together 1 to 2 more minutes. Whisk in stock, then combine with squash until warmed through and smooth. Stir in cream and bring sauce to a bubble. Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with spices. Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce. Serve with a little sprig of thyme for garnish.
I used all of the cream making those squash pies so I improvised and put in a huge scoop of cream cheese. This was an excellent idea. Smooth and creamy. Of course, I didn’t have frozen puree, I had was still working from the batch of fresh puree. Go figure. Then, I used Havarti cheese instead of the Cheddar. I happened to have some and I know it melts smoother. NOW, here’s where I went all crazy and got off the grid. I chopped up the fresh Hiratake mushroom from the CSA box . Boo-ya! Great idea! And, since I was starting to go way off the charts, I didn’t just mix the cheesy goo with the noodles, I baked it for just a couple of minutes with the shredded parmagiano and some french fried onions (from a can). OMG–BRILLIANT!
And, because this is the heaviest mac and cheese casserole ever … I had to have a side salad with some fresh pomegranate seeds. Mmmm. Mmmmm. Good.
What’s on your plate today?