Monday, January 7, 2013

Butternut Squash Rotini Mac and Cheese

This is a beautiful marriage of our old mac and cheese with smoked cheddar and truffle oil and a new-ish idea that has been floating around where a humble butternut squash is blended into the cheese sauce to lower the fat and calories of this notorious gut bomb. The bonus is that the butternut squash adds a nice hit of sweetness and moisture to the dish in addition to improving its stats. That's right! Adding butternut squash makes mac and cheese healthier and better. How rare and wonderful is that?

Look for a medium-sized butternut squash that's smooth and firm and heavy for its size. You can peel it using a vegetable peeler and scrape the seeds out using a spoon. It's easy, but if need be, you can use cans of already-ready butternut squash for ease. There are a million ways to cook a butternut squash, but since this recipe already has a big pot of salted water going for the pasta, it's easiest to just throw the squash into the water to cook.

Make this for your family, and even the mac and cheese aficionados will love it. The combination of nutmeg, thyme, and truffle oil is a sure-fire savory combo.

Butternut Squash Rotini Mac and Cheese

5-6 cups cubed butternut squash (peeled, seeded)
6 garlic cloves
2 1/2 cups rotini pasta
2 cups shredded cheese (smoked Gouda, white cheddar, goat)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Scant 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

5 sprigs thyme (stems discarded)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons black truffle oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Boil squash and garlic cloves for 5 to 7 minutes or until very tender. Retrieve the squash and garlic from the boiling water using a spyder and place into the work bowl of you food processor. Now in the same water, cook the rotini according to package instructions. Drain water from the pasta and set aside. 

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook until flour starts to smell nutty and fragrant and begins to lightly brown. Add the milk, continue to whisk, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow mixture to boil. You will notice the mixture has thickened. Stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Add the cheese mixture to the work bowl (the one with the squash) of the food processor along with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and sherry vinegar. Blend until completely smooth.

Pour mixture into the pot with the cooked pasta, add the thyme, and mix until well incorporated. Pour into an 8 x 12 casserole dish. It will look like too much sauce for the amount of pasta, but it's not! Cover with bread crumbs and drizzle with black truffle oil. Bake for 25 minutes and serve hot out of the oven. (Makes 6 servings.)


Amanda said...

I really want to like your website, but please, please, please change the white text on black background. It makes my eyes bleed.

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

We see your point. But be sure to apply a cold compress immediately, poor thing!


Daniel Watson said...

Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite all-time foods, this has a really cool twist to the original one of which I cannot wait to try out!

Thank you! :)

Laura Caldwell Schaaf said...

We made this last night...SO GOOD! We made a few modifications using a swiss, gruyere, and sharp cheddar to make it more kid-friendly. We also didn't have the truffle oil, so we just used olive. Wonderful recipe; thanks!

Geraldine said...

Oh yummm...this sounds great.

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These sec. codes are very hard to read btw.

Anonymous said...

Can you make this with squash that is pureed? (I have some frozen chunky pureed squash in my freezer I've been wanting to use up.)

By the way, yours is one of my favorite food blogs. Thanks for all your recipes!

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

Thank you so much for the kind words! …and, yes, you may use frozen squash for this. It'd be a perfect way to use it up.