Although I could probably cook all day long for the holidays and still think of plenty of seasonal goodies to make, the reality is I have a family that still needs to eat dinner every night. So while it would be nice to do nothing but bake cookies and make mulled wine, that's not going to nourish these busy boys of mine. But this cheesy pasta will.
Essentially this is a regular mac and cheese recipe, but some of the milk/cream is replaced with squash puree, and a few slices of bacon are thrown in for good measure. I like to make a double batch of this and tuck the remainder in the fridge for lunches during the week. It heats nicely and the boys seems to like it more than anything else I've been offering lately.
Oh, and consider making the squash puree in advance. It makes the meal cook in a more timely manner and there is always leftovers which can be thrown into a pot of soup, added to mashed potatoes or warmed and served on it's own. I even spread some on a bit of crusty bread, added a touch of hebed goat cheese and toasted it up in the oven. Divine.
Cheesy Pasta with Squash and Bacon
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1 package of pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup squash puree (recipe below)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon on the sheet. Cook the bacon in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, or until crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Crumble into small bits and set aside.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, or approximately 9 minutes. Drain the pasta and place it back in the pot.
3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and when it’s slightly foamy, add the flour. Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add the milk and squash puree and cook until thickened. If the sauce is too thick add more milk, by ¼ cups, until it reaches desired thickness.
4. Add the cheese and nutmeg to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and add the crumbled bacon. Mix well to combine.
Simple Squash Puree
- 1 small butternut squash
- Approx. 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (enough to cover squash by 1")
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
1. Peel the squash and slice it into half lengthwise. Using a large spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Chop the squash into 1” cubes and place them in a medium saucepan. Add the sage and cover with chicken stock.
2. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is fork-tender.
3. Remove the pot from the stove and puree the squash using an immersion blender.