Butternut Squash “Mac-n-Cheese”

So this may perhaps be my favorite pasta ever. And I really love my pasta. One of the main reasons is because it looks just like mac’n’cheese but it’s “healthy”. I say “healthy” because there’s butternut squash as the base for the sauce, but since pasta is not the same without butter and cheese, it’s a little less good for you so basically I’m breaking even. I also like to add cauliflower in this dish because it doesn’t ruin the illusion that you’re eating mac’n’cheese while adding a veggie! Also, since I was just making this for myself it’s only for 1 serving, but you can easily double, triple, quadruple, quintuple… you get the point.

Here’s what you’re going to need:
1T olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I really love garlic and would do more than 2 but if you don’t love garlic like me you can always use 1)
1/2 head of cauliflower
5 cubes of butternut squash puree

**To make this, I cut a butternut squash in half and remove the pulp and seeds. Place face down in a baking dish with 1/4″ of water in the bottom of it and roast it at 350° for an hour or until very tender. Scoop out flesh and place into a food processer. Blend until smooth. You can use it immediately but I like to put it into ice cube trays and freeze them for later use.

Pasta (my favorite is Gemelli for this dish but I can’t seem to find it in Seattle so I just used penne)
1/4 c half and half (or less)
2 t pesto (optional)
Italian blend cheese (Gouda is also really good in this)
Butter
salt, pepper, nutmeg
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Start by bringing water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cauliflower and steam until almost (but not fully) tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with gold water to stop cooking.

In a skillet, sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes. Then add the butternut squash puree and wait for it to melt.  (Please ignore the dirty stove, I rushed home to start cooking this and wouldn’t even have remembered that I wanted to take pictures until my roommate reminded me).

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Meanwhile bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan for the pasta.

By the way have you tried this?

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Another food blogger had posted this as one of her favorite things from TJoe’s a few weeks ago and when I saw it I had to get it. There were only 2 left on the shelf so I knew it must be good! I may have a slight addiction to grocery shopping. Especially at TJoe’s. I could go up and down the aisles for hours there.  It doesn’t help that there is one literally across the street from the yoga studio I go to. I have to resist the urge to go in there every day because even if I tell myself I’ll only be getting one or two things I always end up with at least 3 times as much stuff as I had intended.

Anyway, back to the reason you came here: Once butternut squash puree is fully thawed, add half-and-half and pesto. Stir until fully incorporated and season with salt, pepper and a few dashes of nutmeg. If you wanted to be healthier you could also just add some milk or chicken stock instead of the half-and-half.

Add 1T of butter and 1/4c of cheese and stir to combine.

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Cook and drain the pasta according to the packaging instructions.

Once the pasta is cooked, put it back into the saucepan and add the cauliflower and butternut squash sauce. Top with a little extra cheese and enjoy! (A glass of wine doesn’t hurt either)

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I think next time I would add a little less half-and half. Usually I eye-ball but I was trying to get an accurate amount for this recipe and 1/4c seemed like a good number.

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