Bacon + Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese {recipe}

bacon + butternut squash + mac and cheese{image via instagram. follow: The Delicious}

Adding pureed butternut squash to replace some of the cheese is an effective way to both reduce the fat and calories in macaroni and cheese and increase the fiber and vegetabley vitamins.

Adding bacon, thank God, helps to counteract all of that healthy bullshit…

Bacon + Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese {recipe}

Most recipes require baking the macaroni and cheese in the oven. I cannot justify using two burners on the stovetop (possibly three if the bacon isn’t already cooked and you have to fry it especially for this recipe) AND turning on the oven. This is just a simple stovetop version; for the more complicated, oven-baked Bacon Butternut Mac and Cheese, make the TasteSpotting version.

makes a party-size bowl of macaroni and cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 pound (16 ounces) dried penne rigate pasta (or other tube-shaped pasta like traditional elbows or rigatoni)
1 to 1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
2-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed with side of knife
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups milk (plus more, kept warm)
generous pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
8-10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
optional: 1 cup panko bread crumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons melted butter for a breadcrumb topping
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and transfer back to the cooking pot.

In a large saucepan, bring the butternut squash, garlic, stock, and milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Remove the butternut squash from heat and either 1) mash butternut squash, garlic, stock, and milk together for a slightly more “textured” macaroni and cheese or 2) puree the butternut squash, garlic, stock and milk in a blender/food processor in batches for a smoother sauce (it will not be totally smooth).

Stir nutmeg, salt, and pepper into the butternut squash mash/puree. If the butternut squash mash/puree seems to thick, add a little bit of warmed milk until you get a “sauce” consistency (it shouldn’t be too thick because adding cheese will make it thicker). Add shredded cheeses and stir until cheese begins to melt. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Scrape butternut squash cheese mixture into pot with pasta. Stir to coat pasta with butternut squash sauce. Add chopped bacon and fold to combine.

Transfer bacon butternut squash mac and cheese to serving bowl.

If making breadcrumb topping: in a small bowl, toss panko breadcrumbs with melted butter. Toast in frying pan over medium high heat until breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Combine with grated Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle over mac and cheese in serving bowl, along with chopped fresh parsley.

Supposedly, leftover mac and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but I have no idea because we’ve never had any leftovers.

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