04.10.12_Beer and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

A while back Caitlin had me and Phillip over for dinner. She had made a vegan Mac and Cheese that had butternut squash in it and it was super delicious. In my daily perusing of the food blogs, I came across a recipe for Beer and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. It sounded like Caitlin's version, except it had real cheese instead of vegan, and added beer. Sounded like a win win to me. The original recipe used two whole boxes of pasta and seeing as I was only cooking for the two of us, I decided to half the recipe.

After cutting the recipe in half, it called for:
  • 1 box elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb butternut squash (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 bottle wheat beer
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (we subbed a Four Cheese Blend we already had)
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (I actually omitted this)
  • Pinch of nutmeg (my addition)
  • 1/8 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
When we went shopping, Safeway didn't have any whole butternut squash. They did, however, have the already peeled and diced butternut squash. I was really bummed that the store did all the work for me since, as you may recall, I LOVE peeling butternut squash (where's the sarcasm font when you need it?). To start, I cooked the macaroni, then drained and set aside. In the same large pot I cooked the pasta, I added the diced butternut squash, milk, beer, garlic, bay leaf, and S&P. I brought the mixture to a boil, then lowered the heat and simmered for about 25 minutes until the squash was soft. I removed the bay leaf, then used my handy immersion blender to puree the squash until it was nice and smooth. I mixed in the cheeses and the Greek yogurt, grated in some fresh nutmeg, then folded in the macaroni. After it was all combined, I poured the mac and cheese into a baking dish I had sprayed with non-stick spray, then topped with the Parm and panko. Then it was into a 375° oven for 30 minutes.

Thank goodness we split this recipe in half. It made a ton (though I am very happy to have leftovers). As if this recipe weren't easy enough already, I actually had made this in advance and kept it in the fridge. Then when we were ready to eat all I had to do was preheat the oven and pop it in. I ended up turning on the broiler for the last 5 minutes to get it nice and brown on top. The mac and cheese was so good and I could really taste the squash and the beer. I served it with a side salad of mixed greens, dried cranberries, and cashews topped with a homemade lemon vinaigrette and a shaving of Gruyere cheese. Delish.

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