First of all, where was this dish when I was eating mac and cheese from a box (gasp) almost everyday during my pregnancy? This dish could have saved me from gaining an additional 20 pounds that I am now just toying with the idea of actually losing sometime in the near future. Near future = sometime in the next 6 months. We all know that trying to lose weight in December is just not a good idea. The temptation for cookies, peppermint mochas and fancy cocktails is just way too great and if deprived you will most likely end up crying by yourself as you sing christmas corals between sobs of tears and snot. It happens. And it doesn't look pretty.
That is what January is for -
- Losing weight
- Cleaning your fridge
- Pretending you don't like sugar anymore
- Eating green things
- Trying to find your gym membership card before realizing you don't belong to a gym
Poor January, never has any fun.
This recipe is a result of a dinner I made the other night when I was frantically trying to get something on the table. Anything would have worked. Ever have those nights? I wasn't trying to be healthy. I wasn't trying to be fancy. Cereal would have worked just as well. So in a state of desperation, I tossed some left over butternut squash, which I had on hand from my week of obsessing over it for baby puree making, a box of pasta and some spices together and suddenly this amazingly yummy, googy and creeeeamy pasta came together, and it tasted just like 'mac and cheese'. I scratched my head and just went with it.
The goodness comes from the sauce, which is made entirely from BUTTERNUT SQUASH! That is it. I feel like screaming it from my roof. BUTTERNUT SQUASH!!!
Butternut squash is my new hero. Not only is butternut squash great for babies first puree, it makes a crave worthy dinner for the entire dinner. Which leads me to believe that I need to start a new category for 'Family Meals'. Because this is where it is at. One easy dish for everyone at my table.
The thing is, is that you won't miss the cream or butter or any of that 'bad' for you stuff in this 'mac and cheese'. It was only after I was done licking the blender and trying to not shove my face into it - careful those blades are sharp, was when I realized just how healthy this dish is for you. It uses an entire butternut squash and pasta of your choice which makes it a perfect dish for families that are vegan, gluten free or vegetarian. A dish that is loaded with vitamin A, fiber, folate, lutein and calcium all of which is great, but it was the toddler requesting seconds of this 'mac and cheese' that confirmed this dish was a real winner. This 'cheese' sauce is just that good. You have been warned.
Pasta. Butternut Squash. Garlic. Onion. Thyme. Curry. Done and Done.
The longest part about this dish was roasting the butternut squash, but if you are in a time crunch they sell frozen or fresh cubed butternut squash that cooks up in minutes. So while your pasta is boiling away, this yellow magic 'cheese' sauce comes together in the time it would take you to make the box mac and cheese. Save that box for really serious moments of desperation. You know what I am talking about. We all have them.
Butternut Squash 'Mac and Cheese'
1 medium Butternut Squash
1 - 12 ounce Pasta of choice
1 cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Curry
1 tsp fresh Thyme [can also use sage or rosemary]
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1- Pre-heat oven to 400 degree F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
2- Cut butternut squash in half, seed and place on baking sheet, skin side down. Bake for 40 minutes or until fork can prick the skin easily.
3- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package directions.
4- In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
5 - Scrape butternut squash from skin and place in blender or food processor. Add onion, garlic, thyme, curry and vegetable broth and puree until smooth.
6- Return pureed butternut squash to skillet over medium heat. Add pasta, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
7- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. if desired and serve immediately.