What a mouthful, am I right? This is one of those dinners, that while super delicious and totally worth making, either involves a decent chunk of time or some planning ahead. It works for me because I usually prepare dinner in a few steps throughout the day, such as during nap time.
Here’s what I used to make it:
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-6T butter, divided
-10oz frozen butternut squash
-1.5c whole milk
-4oz American cheese, shredded (I like to add some American to mac n cheese because it’s the smoothest melting cheese. Feel free to use all cheddar)
-4oz cheddar cheese, shredded
-1lb pasta (I used chiocciole because Cormac likes “round pasta”)
-1/4c Parm, shredded
First step is to melt 2T of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and allow to slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally. Real talk – almost every recipe I see claims onions caramelize in 15-20 minutes. That’s just a straight up lie. I find it takes more like 40-60 minutes. But it’s not super taxing or active so it’s worth it. This is also something you could do the day before and just keep them refrigerated. I salt and pepper at the end of caramelizing, not during. I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do but that’s just how I roll.
While the onions are caramelizing, dump the squash into a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon of water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor or blender and purée.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking this sounds complicated or like a lot of steps, but it really doesn’t feel like it, I swear. I wouldn’t lie to you, Internet.
Bring a pot of salted water (Brent wants you to know you are probably not adding enough salt to your water) to a boil and drop the pasta in once boiling and cook til al dente. Basically cook it a minute or two less than you normally would because it will cook in the oven with the sauce as well.
While the water is heating/boiling, we make the cheesy sauce. Into the pan with the onions that have caramelized, add 2T butter and melt. Then add the flour and whisk to cook the flour. Next, slowly whisk in the milk.
See, how I added a prep step photo? It’s not great. I’m going to go ahead and assume no one comes here for the lackluster iPhone photography. Moving on. Whisk as you add all the milk and continue whisking until it starts to thicken. Should only take 2-3 minutes. Add the cheeses and the puréed squash and stir until mostly smooth.
Drain the pasta and combine pasta with sauce and pour into something close to a 13×9″ pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 and heat a small pan over medium heat. Melt the last 2T of butter. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until golden. Add salt and pepper. Spread the breadcrumbs and shredded Parm over the top of the mac n cheese.
Toss it into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top gets browned and a bit crispy. Serve it up, and if you’re like me, splash some hot sauce on it.
This made about 6 servings, although I think Teddy would’ve eaten the whole pan if I let him. Homeboy crushed it, as he does all pasta. Here he is, chewing down on mac n cheese and broccoli. He ate like 3 servings. #pig
Cormac didn’t eat any, but he was way too jacked from his first day riding the school bus, and gymnastics class. He could barely sit still. Yesterday was a BIG day for him.
Ahhh! He was so excited, and so I had no choice but to be excited for him!
And then my heart exploded. Luckily I had cheesy carbs to help rebuild the pieces.