The creaminess and flavor of kabocha squash with the boldness of roasted garlic make this mac and cheese exceptionally delicious!
I’ve already expressed my love for squash (see my Kabocha Squash Porridge or quinoa stuffed honeynut squash or Harvest Salad) but kabocha squash is definitely somewhere at the top of my “favorite squash” list. When you roast it, a wonderfully deep flavor develops, and the texture of it when it’s pureed is incredibly smooth and silky. To roast it, preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the top off the kabocha squash, remove the seeds, and drizzle with oil and sprinkle withs salt. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the inside flesh is fork tender, but the outer skin still holds some integrity. This part is important if you want to serve the mac and cheese in the squash. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of the squash with a spoon, leaving about 1/2 an inch of flesh (again to help maintain the integrity of the squash). Set the flesh and the squash aside. You can definitely sub the squash for a different type of squash (butternut squash will probably give you the most similar dish).
Roasted garlic is never a bad idea. I love garlic, and I basically put it in everything I cook, but roasting it releases a wonderful sweetness that is simply amazing. It’s so easy to prepare and as it bakes, it caramelized beautifully, and can be put in or on anything! You can see how to do it here.
Now put the roasted kabocha squash and garlic together and add it mac and cheese, and you have yourself a winning dish. Those 2 elements lend themselves beautifully to make a tastier (and slightly healthier) mac and cheese! Please do yourself a favor and try this! Added bonus: you can serve it in the kabocha squash, which makes for an incredible presentation! My squash was big enough to hold almost all the mac and cheese. I had a few spoons leftover that I couldn’t fit, but that was good for me because I just ate it!
Please please enjoy this exceptionally hearty, satisfying and wonderfully tasty dish! Hugs & kisses and all my best wishes!
- 1 kabocha squash (medium to large)
- Oil and salt for roasting
- 2 bulbs roasted garlic* (see note)
- 1 pound dry pasta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups whole milk, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1-1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
- Crushed red pepper flakes, optional.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the top off the kabocha squash, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake cut side down for 30-40 minutes (until inside flesh is fork tender but the outer skin still upholds some integrity). Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh of the squash, leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch of flesh around the outside. Set aside.
- Roast 2 bulbs of garlic* (see note), and remove the individual cloves from the skin by pinching the bulb gently.
- Puree squash, roasted garlic, and 1/2 cup milk. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to the directions; cook it al dente (about 1 minute shy of what the directions say).
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, and whisk to combine. Cook for 2-3 extra minutes until flour is cooked off. Slowly add remaining 1-1/2 cup milk while whisking constantly. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cheese. Stir together until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add the squash and garlic puree, and mix until combined.
- Add cooked pasta to the sauce, and mix to combine. Top with crushed red pepper flakes if desired.
- For the roasted garlic, http://delightfullyfull.com/perfect-roasted-garlic/ OR scroll up to blog portion titled "Roasted Garlic" section for a link on directions.