This comforting dish is a grown-up take on mac ‘n cheese. Using my favorite ingredient of the month, butternut squash, the sauce is creamy without the addition of too much cheese or butter. Frozen butternut squash puree is the secret, a grocery store find that tastes great and cuts prep time. Whole wheat pasta not only adds nutrition, but nutty flavor and hearty texture. I like the addition of thyme, but feel free to use any herbs you like – rosemary or sage would be a nice substitution.
1 lb whole wheat pasta (macaroni, ziti or penne hollow, ribbed pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons thyme (fresh preferred, dried is fine, too)
1-2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
1 dash nutmeg
1 (12 ounce) package frozen butternut squash, thawed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 dash paprika
Bring water to a boil, season with salt and cook macaroni to al dente.
Preheat broiler and place rack in middle of the oven.
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic until soft, 6 to 7 minutes and stir in the thyme.
Scoot onions off to side of pan and melt butter, whisk flour into butter and combine whisk 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and cook until thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in butternut squash and a few dashes hot sauce. Reduce heat. When sauce comes to a bubble, stir in Parmigiano. Combine the sauce and macaroni, transfer to a casserole dish and top with shredded yellow Cheddar, chopped parsley and paprika. Brown the macaroni under broiler, 4 to 5 minutes until brown and bubbly.
-Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray