It's cold and damp here today, with dark cloudy skies and lots and lots of rain. No working outside, even though the grass needs cutting and I have flowers to plant! For dinner tonight we needed something to eat that was warm and comforting but not too terribly bad for us. Since Ellie's book, The Food You Crave, was still sitting out on my kitchen counter I took a look and found this lightened up macaroni and cheese.
Believe it or not, it's winter squash that gives this dish its creamy texture and gorgeous golden color. I couldn't taste the squash in the finished dish, but I have to admit that I did use more cheese than Ellie recommends. This added more calories to the dish, but it even so it still had a lighter and less greasy feel than a traditional mac and cheese. Reviewers of this recipe on the Food Network site either loved it or hated it. We loved it and didn't think it had a strong squash taste like many reviewers thought. Then again, we like winter squash so I don't think that would have been a bad thing anyway!
Macaroni and Four Cheeses
recipe from Ellie Krieger
1 (16 oz.) box elbow macaroni (I used ditalini.)
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen pureed winter squash
2 cups lowfat milk
1 1/2 cups (4 oz.) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I used 2 1/2 cups.)
2/3 cup (2 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese (I used 1 cup of Italian 3 cheese blend.)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a bit more than this.)
2 Tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs (I used panko.)
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Cook macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and pour into the prepared baking dish.
- While the macaroni is cooking, place the milk and the frozen squash into a saucepan and cook over low heat until the squash is defrosted. Turn the heat up until the mixture is almost at a simmer.
- Remove from heat and add cheddar, Monterey Jack, ricotta, salt, mustard and cayenne. Pour this cheese mixture over the macaroni and combine.
- In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, Parmesan and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. *Note: I doubled the breadcrumbs and Parmesan for my topping.
- Bake until cheeses are bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes. Broil for 3 minutes, or until the top is crisp and browned.