My friends Mary and Niki had themselves a set of twins last month. The least I can do is sign up to bring meals to the new sleep deprived moms. In the years since my friends started having babies, I've noticed that not only have new baby meal deliveries become the norm, they've also become hyper-efficiently organized through the magic of facebook and google doc spreadsheets. As a Virgo who was raised by a librarian, I actually think I might be pretty good at developing some kind of software/iphone app for post-natal baby meals...hmmm...
In any event, it was my turn on Sunday and I still had some spare ribs from last year's pig. I slow cooked them in the oven with this 6 hour recipe but accidentally put the smoked paprika in the rub and made a bbq/finishing sauce with the remaining meat juice, yellow mustard and worcestershire sauce. Trust me, it was better than it sounds. I made some really simple braised mustard greens and then got weird with my starch component: butternut squash mac and cheese.
Now this came to me as a result of 1) feeling like new parents need all the vitamins they can get and squash is full of those and 2) having a ton of frozen squash in the freezer from my CSA. I'm not, nor do I want to be perceived as someone who likes to cut the fat out of regular recipes, but it really was good with half the cheese and milk that would normally go into mac and cheese. And most of all, I love how it looks like it's made out of artificial cheese!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
(serves 2 new parents)
3 cups cooked elbows (I used whole wheat from about 1 cup dry)
1 cup cooked winter squash*
knob of butter (that's 1 or 2 tablespoons) plus more for pan
1/2 cup milk
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 cup (more or less) grated cheese--your choice!
breadcrumbs or panko
Preheat oven to 400 and prepare your pan by greasing it with some butter. Then in a 2-4 qt saucepan, melt the butter. Add the milk, then the pureed squash, and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the cheese might be salty too. Add cheese and continue to whisk so that it looks like queso cheese sauce. (You can also do squash then cheese then season--maybe that makes more sense.) Fold into the noodles, and pour into baking dish. Sprinkle on a little cheese for the top, breadcrumbs or panko, and then dot with a little butter. Bake for 30 minutes, until sides are bubbling and surface is golden brown.
*if you're starting from scratch, half and scrape out the core of a butternut, kabocha, acorn or any other hard winter squash. Rub with a little oil, roast at 425 until flesh is super soft. Let cool, then peel and puree in food processor. Remainder can be frozen for soups or whatevs.