Monday, December 13, 2010

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

I don't have any kids, but if I did, I'd make them Squasharoni.  Here's why:

  1. It uses itty-bitty pasta.  I watched my friend, Mo, feed her baby the other day, and that baby loooooved to eat itty-bitty pasta.  The noodles were perfectly sized for her tiny fingers.  She also liked to smoosh her dinner all over herself.  That was funny.  
  2. Top secret: it's healthy!  While this looks like regular old mac and cheese, complete with Kraft-esque orange color, it's full of vegetables.  So, you can trick your kid into eating something filled with vitamins and fiber.  Sneaky, huh?
  3. It's called Squasharoni.  'Nuf said.
Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese ("Squasharoni")
Recipe adapted from Great Food Fast by Everyday Food and re-named by me.  (As if a regular cookbook author would actually call something "Squasharoni.") 
Serves: 6

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided 
1 pound small pasta shells
1 12-ounce package frozen winter squash puree, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Crusty baguette, cut into 1/4" cubes, to make 2 cups bread cubes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cover the pan, and cook until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes.  Uncover and raise the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned, about 20 minutes longer.  Stir in 2 teaspoons of the rosemary.  

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water for 2 minutes less than the package instructions suggest.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  

Stir the squash and the reserved pasta water into the onions.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Stir the squash mixture and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese into the pasta.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Toss together the bread cubes with the remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle the bread cubes over the top of the pasta.  Pop the dish in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.   

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