Update 12/10/13: Along with the original bacony version, this pumpkin mac and cheese packed with winter vegetables is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve made it many times throughout the years. I always want this dish a bit more saucy, so I’m planning to give it a proper re-post sometime soon using 2 cups of milk, and 1 cup of goat cheese in place of the ricotta. But for now, here are some updated photographs. Cheers!
I know it’s barely been two months since I posted about Baked Mac and Cheese with roasted squash, collards, bacon and sage, but I just made this dish again the other night, only with a few changes. I won’t say it was ‘better,’ since I omitted the bacon and that would be just impossible, but it was pretty spectacular. As I have been eating it for just about every meal for the past three days, it seemed unfair not to share the variation.
The pasta is gooey and hearty enough to feel decadent, yet light and vegetal enough to convince you you are eating something healthy. I can’t think of a more satisfying one-dish meal on a chilly winter’s day.
I don’t have much experience with picky children, but this seems like a good recipe to get them to eat their veggies. The pureed squash blends into the cheese, leaving its voluptuous texture and sweet flavor, and the cauliflower gets disguised into the white of the noodles. (Kale haters: you’re on your own.)
The mac is best when fresh, as the noodles continue to absorb moisture from the sauce as they sit, but leftovers are still delicious when re-heated.
Oodles of noodles:
Winter Squash Mac and Cheese with Bacon, Collard Greens, and Caramelized Onions
Pasta Alla Carbonara with Kale, Brussels Sprouts, and Bacon
Nettle Pesto Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
like to make my own squash puree with butternut and/or kabocha squash,
both of which have sweeter, more dense flesh than pumpkin. To do this,
slice a medium-sized winter squash in half lengthwise with a sharp, large chef’s knife. Leave the seeds in for now, and place it cut-side down on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 350ºF until very tender and collapsing slightly. Let cool, scoop out and discard the seeds and strings, then puree the flesh in a food processor.
Alternately, you can use a can of pumpkin or butternut squash puree. I
used corn and quinoa macaroni here, but penne works well, too. I used
sprouted wheat bread for the breadcrumbs, but you can use any bread you
a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Lightly
rub the inside of a 9×13-inch (22x33cm) baking pan with olive oil and
set aside. Bring a large pot of water well-salted water to a boil.
and cut the cauliflower into small florets. Tear the kale off of its
stems and discard the stems. When the water is boiling, carefully add
the cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Scoop out the
cauliflower with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place in a very large
the kale, cooking it until it’s bright green, 1-2 minutes. Drain well.
When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water and chop the
kale roughly. Add the cooked kale to the bowl with the cauliflower.
the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook, stirring frequently,
until it’s just a little firmer than you would want to eat. (It will
continue to cook and absorb moisture during the baking process.) Drain
the pasta well and add it to the bowl with the vegetables.
a large saucepan (or the now empty pot in which you cooked the veg and
pasta), combine the squash puree, vegetable stock, milk, nutmeg, and 1/2
teaspoon salt. Bring to a bare simmer, stirring frequently, then remove
from the heat and whisk in the cheddar and ricotta to melt the cheeses.
The sauce will seem thin, but it will thicken up during the baking
the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the
bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until crisp, 5 minutes. Scrape into a
small bowl, and stir in the Parmesan and a pinch of salt.
the sauce over the pasta and vegetables, and stir to combine. Scrape
the mixture into the greased baking pan and sprinkle with the breadcrumb
mixture. Bake the pasta until bubbling and golden on top, 20-30
minutes. Serve hot.