When asked, my cheese-phobic 5 year-old usually identifies Mac’n Cheese as his favourite dish. I know he loved the version served at his daycare, responsible among other things for introducing him to ketchup and grilled cheese made in the oven…
So whenever I make Mac’n Cheese, he looks completely delighted, until he takes a bite. My version with homemade marinara and good cheddar just doesn’t pass mustard, evah, creating the impression he probably gobbled a watered-down version in said daycare. Doesn’t it seem as if what foods our kids eat outside the home can become the bane of our existence?
Which brings me to the second recipe I cooked from Sous le charme des courges et des citrouilles (“Charmed by squash and pumpkins”), the new cookbook from Chatelaine food writer Louise Gagnon. Her Butternut Macaroni may look orange and creamy but it only contains a half-cup of parmesan. Kiddo ate two, count them, two servings. Monsieur declared it my best Mac’n Cheese, then proceeded to inhale multiple servings as well.
For my part, I quite liked it, yet remain attached to the traditional Mac of my childhood, though this version probably has the advantage of healthiness and increased vegetable servings on its side. Enjoy.
Note: I had planned on cooking a different squash for every recipe excerpted from Sous le charme des courges et des citrouilles, but the Butternut Lasagna presented here left me with too much squash for my needs. So I recycled the leftovers into this macaroni, you may want to remember this recipe if this ever happens to you.
• 350 g (2.5 cups) raw macaroni — I used Catelli’s Smart pasta for the extra fibre
• 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
• 1 minced onion
• 2 crushed garlic cloves
• 500 ml (2 cups) milk
• 375 g (1.5 cups) cooked and mashed Butternut squash*
• 1 cube dehydrated chicken broth, grated
• 40 g (1/2 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese
• Pinch of cayenne
• Chopped chives (optional)
• Salt and ground black pepper
1. Cook macaroni all dente.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, warm olive oil and cook onion 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Lower heat to medium-low and add milk, mashed Butternut, grated broth, Parmesan and cayenne. Bring to a boil while whisking.
3. Transfer to blender and puree, then return to pan and keep hot.
4. Add drained pasta to sauce, mix well and season to taste. Serve in hot dishes, sprinkled with chives if using.
* To cook Butternut mash, cut flesh into cubes, transfer to a microwaveable dish covered with plastic wrap, taking care to leave one corner lifted for steam to escape. Microwave on high around 10 minutes or until soft, then mash with a fork.