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Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

I know, when you think of creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese, the first thing you reach for in the refrigerator is your ... butternut squash? No, well, maybe you should.

We saw this recipe on the cover of September's issue of Cooking Light and Sammi, a Mac & Cheese whore, requested it immediately on the weekly rotation for dinner. So last Sunday, I checked the ingredients and couldn't believe that it included butternut squash. What I couldn't believe even more was that Sammi was still game to try it.

And it was good!

The flavor of the squash really blends into the background and because you use sharp, flavorful white colored cheeses the squash actually makes the dish yellow so it looks like the stuff from the box.

A bit of prep work involved with peeling, chopping and cooking the squash (you may want to buy the already peeled kind in the market) and grating the cheeses but then you stick the casserole in the oven and can straighten up your kitchen so after dinner, it's a matter of just cleaning up the dishes.

I may try freezing this puppy to see how it holds up. If well, it's going on the Thanksgiving Day rotation too (heck, I can squeeze some veggies into all the nieces and nephews without them even knowing!).

creamy_mac_and_cheese.jpg

Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt (I forgot this)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi (I used small shells - it's all I had in the house)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (didn't bother)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

This came in at a whopping 10 PPV but I'd work out and do it again.

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Other Thinks (2)

Cool - I wondered how that would be. When I read about the squash I thought 'pass'. Now I shall give it a try on your recommendation.

Kim [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Jerry, we really liked it so I'll be curious to hear what you think.

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