Monday, September 26, 2011

fall! (means comfort food)

Fall has arrived! (at least chronologically, if not meteorologically...the weather in Nashville has been alternating between summer and fall) I love the changing of the seasons, and fall might be my favorite one. The colors, the activities, the food...just soak it all in.

I had both an acorn squash and a butternut squash on hand this week (thank you again, CSA, for making me exercise culinary creativity), so I roasted them together and let my imagination take it from there. First I made a version of this recipe for farro with acorn squash and kale (delicious, but not exactly pretty), and then I used my butternut squash for something resembling mac and cheese.  This recipe is not quite as cheesy and hopefully a little bit healthier, but it is still top notch comfort food!

I had something like this for the first time last fall, when my sister made this recipe. I'm not sure why I didn't make it myself until last night, but I'll certainly be making it again.  About 17385 other food bloggers have posted a version of a butternut squash mac and cheese recipe, so this isn't exactly new, but it may be new to you.

I had my pasta bake as part of the first "homestyle" meal (meat, vegetable, starch) I'd eaten in awhile, and I could not believe how satisfied I felt afterwards! The dish can certainly stand alone as a vegetarian main course, but I had mine with chicken and green peas last night, which are also featured in one of the photos below. I think I'll have leftovers again tonight, and I'm actually looking forward to it. I think that says a lot!

P.S. - With my remaining cup of butternut squash, I think I'm either going to try this bread or these cookies. If anyone has other suggestions, please share!

the best part!

cheesy butternut pasta bake
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 6 as a main course, 12 as a side
per large serving:  460.2 cal, 10.2g fat, 63g carb, 11.2g fiber, 27.4g protein, 12+ weight watchers

16 oz whole wheat pasta (I used spirals)
3 c cooked mashed butternut squash (I roasted mine)
2 eggs
1 c skim milk
1 c fat-free cottage cheese or ricotta
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 oz parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 c breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs (Ritz are the best!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a large casserole. (I used one that was about 8 x 12; it just depends on how thick you want it!)

Boil pasta until al dente, according to package directions; drain.

Combine squash, eggs, milk, cheeses, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Add pasta to squash mixture and mix until combined. Transfer mixture to casserole and top with crumbs. Bake until top is crispy and edges are browned, 40-50 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

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