Meatless Monday: Pumpkin mac and cheese

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Fall is here! And I’m all in. I love summer as much as the next gal (tomatoes! the beach! relaxed schedules! sunshine! longer days!), but I can only take so much sweating before I’m ready for fleeces and squash (leaves changing! fires! apple picking! Halloween! schedules!).

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This mac and cheese is warming, cheesy, and chock full of veggies. It also works as dinner or lunch (or both!). I’ve made this with some sausage on the side for an even heartier meal, but it’s very filling on its own.

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A couple of notes:
- I use half roasted squash and half pumpkin (butternut or acorn squash is my favorite, but you could use kobocha or delicata) because I don’t always love straight pumpkin pasta sauces. There is something heavy and somehow both flavorless and overwhelming about a sauce made with just pumpkin.
- The most time consuming part of this recipe is cooking the onions. A longer, slower cook yields much better flavor that significantly improves the final dish. I recommend taking the time.
- This recipe makes twice as much sauce as you need. You can either freeze half, or make two boxes (2 lbs) of pasta for a large family. We’ve found that using 1 box of pasta and freezing half of the sauce yields one dinner for the three of us and two lunches for M (and some late-night picking for us).

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Pumpkin mac and cheese

1 Tbsp olive oil, butter, ghee, or your fat of choice
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
10 large sage leaves (about 1 Tbsp), minced
½ tsp kosher salt
½-1 can pumpkin puree
½ small acorn squash (or about 1 cup any type of squash), roasted
½-1 cup milk
½ cup gruyere, shredded
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 lb pasta
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  


Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil. (I add 2 heaping tsp of salt to my pasta water and that usually does the trick.) Cook your pasta according to package directions (towards the end of cooking your onions). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the thinly sliced onions. Brown, stirring often, until caramelized, about 25- 30 minutes. Don’t worry if your onions become a little frizzled or fried instead of caramelized. I tend to forget them or have the flame up too high for a minute. Either way, they’ll taste delicious as long as they’re well cooked.

Add the garlic and sage to the onions and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat.

In a blender or food processor, combine the cooked onions, garlic, sage, acorn (or other) squash, pumpkin puree, and cheese. Blend on high. Slowly add the milk until you’ve reached your desired consistency.* Scrape down the sides as needed.

Pour about 1/2 of the sauce into a large container for another time.

Drain your pasta, but reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta back into the pasta pot, top with ½ of the sauce, and thin out as needed with the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

*The amount of milk you’ll need depends largely on your squash. Some squash have more water in them, so you’ll need less milk. Start with ¼ cup and add more as needed.

Yield: 4 adult-sized dinner servings, 6 kid-sized dinner servings, or more if you’re serving this for lunch

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Delicata squash boats!

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It's Whole 30 time again, folks. Between the move and my health, I've been feeling unmoored and eating with an abandon that has left me sluggish, foggy, and out of control.

So, I'll be posting some non-Whole 30 recipes that are already in my queue and that we make for Max, but will also be focusing on Whole-30 compliant recipes, especially over on Instagram.

In the mean time, these squash boats are so so good. I made a 1/2 batch for this post and have been eating the plain roasted delicata squash with everything. As I write this, I'm feasting on 1/4 of a squash filled with homemade turkey sausage and topped with a runny egg.

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Delicata is the sort-of-lazy man's squash. It's not totally without prep as you have to cut it in half and clean out the seeds in the middle. But there's no peeling, because the peel is edible, which erases the most aggravating thing about squash for me.

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Anyway, the non-Whole 30 version of these are a huge hit with the toddler. While, obviously, the cheese, milk, and bread play a big role, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. The bread and nutty cheese are a nice salty, crunchy counterpoint to the sweet, soft squash while the eggs and milk add richness and the kale adds a little green as well. 

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Delicata squash boats

2 large delicata squash, washed, ends trimmed, and cut in half with seeds scooped out
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup grated parmesan
4 large sage leaves, minced (or ½ tsp of dried sage)
4 oz stale bread cubes
1 cup finely chopped kale
4 oz cooked sausage
2 oz gruyere

Preheat the oven to 400. While the oven is heating, clean the squash by cutting each log in half, scooping out the seeds and pulp in the center, and placing cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk lightly to combine. Add the bread cubes and stir to dampen all of the bread. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined and nothing is dry. Set aside.

Roast the squash for 15 minutes, or until a fork can just pierce the outside of the squash (the squash will continue to cook, so don’t look for full fork tenderness and you don’t want overdone squash because it could fall apart). 

Remove from the oven and carefully flip over being mindful of the steam. Scoop equal amounts of filling into the centers. Top with grated gruyere and place back in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is brown and melted.

Yield: 4 dinner-sized servings for adults (M usually eats about ½ of a squash)  

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