Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese

October 20, 2011
This delicious autumn-inspired mac n' cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  Cubes of sweet and buttery squash are mixed with the cheesy tubes of pasta.  The best part is a gingersnap and sage crust instead of the traditional bread crumbs.  It adds texture and spice to the dish.  This mac n' cheese is seriously so good that you will make it time and time again.
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 cup grated Stravecchio Parmesan cheese (Sartori Reserve, 2 year aged)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper to season. Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside and turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente according to the package instructions, about 8 minutes.
While the pasta cooks, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the butter, chopped onion, and sage. Saute about 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the flour and stir to combine. Let the mixture cook for 1-2 more minutes. Whisk in stock and milk, and let come to a boil to thicken up.
Next, add the cheeses, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne. Stir to combine. Then, mix in the squash. Use a whisk to mash up the squash a little. I prefer to leave a few chunky pieces of the squash in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and combine well. Pour the mac n cheese into a buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the gingersnap cookie crumble and pecans over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes more.

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