Mmm, sweet roasted butternut squash, sharp monterey jack cheese, and pasta shells – a delicious combination from Tyler Florence’s baby cook book, Start Fresh!
I made this last week and it’s a big favourite for my son and husband. And it’s so much easier to make than traditional mac and cheese that it will be a go-to for a quick dinner. Butternut squash is full of beta-carotene and vitamin A, a powerhouse veggie.
You can do this recipe in stages too. I roasted my butternut squash the day before I made this recipe as I had some time on my hands. Then I whizzed it all together the next day and dinner was ready in a snap. I served this with some steamed spinach and apples for my 15-month old and a big tossed salad for my husband and I. I always give my son a few salad leaves too, so he knows he can start eating salad anytime. He usually licks the dressing off and hands the rest back to me. A work in progress.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Very slightly adapted from Tyler Florence’s book, Start Fresh
1 medium (1 to 11⁄2 pounds) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 ounces small pasta shells (or any pasta you like)
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes. Leave the oven on and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, or tender. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, off the heat.
4. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth. (*If you don’t have a food processor, you could probably use the blender. Just do the puree in batches) Add the squash puree to the pasta and fold together with a rubber spatula until combined. Grease a 9-inch square or round baking dish. Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the dish and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the top is golden and bubbly, 5 to 7 minutes. (*If you prepared the squash the day before, I would bake for about 20-30 minutes) Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.