Did I ever tell you that I love Fall? The cool, crisp air and the warm, rustling leaves. The gradually grayer skies, suddenly darker evenings, and colorful peacoats and wispy scarves. Did I also ever mention I live in.. Hawaii, where virtually none of this exists except for those who forsake their sanity in order to swagger in sweltering ugg boots? *sigh* Oh, how I miss having a full-fledged four season spectrum.“But, it’s Hawaii!” you exclaim.
Jealous? of me? Really?! I suppose the grass really is always greener on the other side.
At least I make do with what I have. Even though it’s not frightfully cold and I obviously don’t need to wear protective layers upon layers of clothing (since one thin layer seems to do just fine), I still feel the need to make heart-warming comfort foods according to the month or (physically absent) season. Better yet, I get to incorporate seasonal vegetables as well! Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. I just love the sound of that, don’t you? Slightly sweet, savory, lush, cheesey, soft, and crusty all at once. As if I didn’t emphasize how much I love pasta enough.
Ladies, let’s save the diets for post-New Year.
Martha Stewart never ceases to amaze me. Her recipes (along with everything else she effortlessly does) always seem flawless. This was clearly one of those recipes I found and obsessed endlessly (in waking moments, in class, at work, in my dreams) over until I had the time to make it. This really got me in the Thanksgiving mood, although I always begin to get giddy about the festivities from September. Amidst all the hectic planning and baking and basting and brining and cooking and decorating and.. you get the point, this reasonably quick and easy dish is a self-explanatory and satisfying go-to meal. People, let’s not forget that there are still 3 more days to practice and perfect unbuckling the belts and unbuttoning the pants!
Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk (I used 2%)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil cooking spray
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 3 tablespoons Parmesan.
- Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) or a 13 x 9-inch rectangle baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
- Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 minutes more. Serve immediately.