Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Autumn Squash and Smoked Gouda Mac

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October, aka my favorite month, is here - check. Cooler weather is here - check. Market full of pumpkins and squash - check. Bring on the comfort food! Creamy, extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese clearly qualifies as comfort food. And even if you're a purist who doesn't like extra vegetables snuck into the mac, I would argue that squash is an exception. It adds a creamy sweetness that's just another layer of comfort.


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If you didn't want to go to the trouble of serving this in a squash bowl, you could just chop up any squash you like, roast it and stir it into the cheesy sauce. But I can't resist using these gorgeous autumn beauties all over my house as decoration and as part of the meal. Plus, mac and cheese might not seem like company food if you're entertaining but it quickly turns into fancy fare if it's presented in the actual squash. Feel free to use cheddar or any other cheese you like. I just happen to be extra fond of smoked Gouda. But don't skip the nutmeg because it adds that certain something, that unknown flavor that makes the difference between boxed mac and gourmet restaurant mac. Enjoy!

Autumn Squash and Smoked Gouda Mac
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by Hungry Couple
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ingredients (4 Servings)
  • 4 Dumpling or Acorn Squash
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/4 lb. Smoked Gouda cheese, grated
  • 1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs for topping
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, for topping
  • 1/2 lb. Short cut pasta
Instructions
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Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the top 1/3 off each squash and, if needed, trim down the bottom so that it stands upright. Be careful not to actually punch a hole in the bottom. (If that happens, wrap the bottom in aluminum foil to catch drips.)

Scoop out the seeds, place the squash bowls (not the lids) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 20 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Allow to cool enough to handle but leave the oven on.

While the squash is cooling, melt the butter in a large skillet and, on medium heat, add the garlic. Saute for only a few seconds, until the garlic is fragrant, and then whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Lower the heat and slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the grated cheese, pepper, nutmeg and salt.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. While it cooks, continue cooking the cheese mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens. Scoop most of the flesh out of the cooked and cooled squash and stir it into the cheese mixture.

Drain the cooked pasta and combine it with the cheese sauce. Scoop equal amounts of the pasta mixture into the hollowed out squash bowls. Combine the breadcrumbs and oil and sprinkle over the tops of the pasta.

Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are a light golden brown.

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