Despite living in the US for 3 years, I didn’t come across mac and cheese too often except as a side at BBQ restaurants. However, what’s not to love about pasta baked with cheese and topped with more cheese. As I’m still clinging onto my New Year’s weight loss resolution I used the recipe from Skinnytaste’s blog incorporating butternut squash into the sauce. This makes it much more acceptable for me as I can’t eat a meal without vegetables but if you’re on the hidden veg train this is a really good way to do it. You can’t see or taste the squash in this recipe. My only gripe with the recipe on the website is that there just isn’t enough cheese, so I’ve increased the amount in my ingredients below. You could play around with the type of cheese too. I subbed in some applewood smoked cheddar just because it caught my eye. Due to a butternut squash shortage?? I used a pack of pre-made root vegetable mash though this did cut down on both time and washing up.
400g tub root vegetable mash
285g dried macaroni pasta
120ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic paste
salt and black pepper
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk ( I used soya milk)
80g smoked cheese
1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
2.) Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook until soft
3.) Make up the vegetable stock and add to a food processor along with the root veg, onion powder, garlic and salt and pepper
4.) Blend the mixture until smooth
5.) Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside in a large mixing bowl
6.) In the pan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a paste. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes to cook down the taste of the flour, whisk in the milk in increments. When it thickens, add more milk until all of it is used up.
7.) Grate the gruyère and the smoked cheese (the smoked cheddar was too soft to grate so I just crumbled this up – it will melt in the milk).
8.) Add the cheese to the milk, stir until it melts. Add the spinach and let it wilt.
9.) Take the pan off the heat and add the puréed vegetable mixture.
10.) Stir this into the pasta in the mixing bowl.
11.) Pour the pasta into a baking tin. Mine was a 30cm glass pie dish.
12.) Bake the pasta for 25 minutes.
13.) In the meantime, grate the parmesan and mix in a bowl with the breadcrumbs.
14.) When the pasta is done, take the tin out of the oven and switch the oven to the grill setting.
15.) Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and put the dish on the top shelf of the oven for 5 minutes.