Now this is yummy. Truly. If you like (or lust after) homemade macaroni and cheese, then this recipe is for you. Homemade mac n' cheese is a huge downfall for me. I LOVE it. I can eat the whole pan. Gooey, cheesy, starchy, comforting. Mmmm. A diet nightmare. But wait! What if you could add a nutritious, low calorie vegetable to your macaroni and not ruin the flavor? What if the veggie actually made the macaroni taste BETTER?? Impossible, you say? Read on.
I found this recipe on A Veggie Venture (http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2007/11/butternut-mac-n-cheese.html) and changed it up a bit to be even healthier. It is healthier, in the first place, just because eating squash is healthier than eating mac n' cheese. Adding the squash displaces the mac, so you are actually eating much less of it, plus the great nutrition of a butternut squash. It LOOKS nice, because butternut squash is about the same color as cheddar cheese. It smells great. It tastes divine. My non-dieting, fat-loving husband (the one who takes all the fat off a roast and eats it) said that this macaroni was the best he has ever tasted! That's saying something... and I have to agree with him. I am a bit of a macaroni snob myself. Anyway, instead of regular macaroni noodles, I used Fiber Wise macaroni. It has some crazy fiber in it (12g per serving!!! crazy I tell you!) but it TASTES like normal macaroni! It is soft and noodley, not rough, brown and weird-textured like some whole wheat pastas are. In any event, if you can't find Fiber Wise, try and find a good high fiber pasta that you like, and use it in this recipe. Barilla Plus is great. I also used skim milk instead of whole. I used regular cheese, but I think it would be fine to replace half of the cheese with 2% Kraft reduced fat cheddar, which I will try next time. I used 12 oz instead of 16, and it was plenty cheesy. Here's the recipe.
Butternut Macaroni and Cheese
1 real big butternut squash, cut in half. Rub the cut sides with a bit of olive oil and roast at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 60-75 minutes, until very soft when poked with a fork. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop out all the flesh from one half and put it in a BIG bowl. Break it up into smallish, bite sized chunks. It's fine if some of it ends up mashed. Save the other half for a different recipe.
8 oz macaroni. Cook this according to package directions in salted water. While it is cooking, make the sauce. Drain the pasta and put it in the bowl with the squash. Fold it together with a spatula, gently, until well combined.
1.5 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped small (I use a food processor)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. white pepper (black is fine, white is prettier)
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1.5 T. flour
1 c. skim milk
12 oz. cheddar cheese (I think sharp cheddar tastes by far the best)
Melt the butter on medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute til soft. Add nutmeg and white pepper. Add the flour, stir it up good, and then add the milk S-L-O-W-L-Y. I mean, add a little splash and stir it in, then a bit more, stirring each time, until it is all incorporated. Heat almost to the boiling point, stirring often. I used a whisk to keep it smooth. It will thicken a bit. Don't let it boil, or it might not stay smooth, but it will still taste fine. Take it off the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until melted. Taste and add some salt if you like. (I personally do think this recipe needs a bit of salt, but you decide).
Now, pour the sauce over the macaroni and squash. Stir it in gently with a spatula so it is well combined. Put this mixture into a 9 by 13 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Using my directions and Fiber Wise pasta, 1/12 of the dish has 207 calories and 9.8 grams of fat.
You start with this...
and end up with this:
It really is amazing. Try it! Happy, healthy eating!
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