Do you, too, take the onset of fall as an opportunity to sneak winter squash into just about everything? Here’s one way to do it: Coat your mac in butternut squash pureé. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Give it a quick pass under the broiler for that glorious bronzed lid. Crumble on some frizzled sage. Enjoy the creamy goodness, without the guilt. Repeat.
Mac & Cheese(adapted from Pinch of Yum)
- Melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 20-30 minutes. The onion should be deep golden, but not blackened. Set aside to cool slightly; don’t wipe down the skillet just yet, as you’ll use it to fry the sage in step 4.
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, steam or boil the butternut squash for 10 minutes, until completely soft when pierced with a fork. Transfer to a blender along with the caramelized onions, milk, chicken or vegetable broth, and 1/2 tsp salt. Blend until smooth.
- Adjust an oven rack to the top and preheat the broiler on high heat. Transfer the macaroni to the baking dish. (If using individually sized dishes, place them on a baking sheet first to make them easier to move in and out of the oven.) Pour in the purée and toss with the macaroni, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheese and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Be careful not to let the cheese burn!
- While the cheese browns, heat the skillet over medium. If the skillet is dry, add a little more oil or butter. Add the sage leaves and pan-fry without moving for a minute or two. The leaves should start to brown and stiffen slightly. Flip and fry for another minute or two, until nicely frizzled. The leaves should be crisp enough to crumble.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven, top with crumbled sage, and serve immediately.
- Up the health factor: Make this dish even more wholesome by using whole-wheat or high-protein macaroni (I use Barilla ProteinPlus), and mixing in some sautéed mushrooms or roasted broccoli.
- Up the crunch factor: Before you place the dish under the broiler, top with crumbled bacon or panko breadcrumbs for an extra crunch.