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Warm Up With This Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

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Macaroni and cheese is my favourite comfort food!

Traditionally, mac and cheese is really rich and heavy on butter, cream and, well, cheese, so I wanted to try a lightened up version -- without compromising taste and texture, of course.

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Mac and cheese is an easy dish to get creative with: you spice it up with ingredients such as peas, kale, bacon, crab, cauliflower, and even a cashew cream sauce. I decided to turn to an unlikely ingredient for a boost: butternut squash.

Combined with one per cent milk and the variety of cheeses, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in a few servings of vegetables, and wonderfully mimics the colour and creaminess of a rich, cheesy sauce. Plus, the trio of bold cheeses packs more flavor than a one-cheese approach.

Is your month watering yet?

butternut squash mac and cheese

Ingredients:

500 g whole wheat elbow macaroni
4-5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups one per cent milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 375 F.
-Roast the cubed butternut squash for 20-25 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork. When roasted and cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.
-Add the macaroni to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender but firm. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
-Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
-Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add the milk and pureed squash to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until almost simmering, stirring often.
-Remove pan from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, onions, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.
-Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine
- Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
-Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

butternut squash mac and cheese

Source: Wealth of Health

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