I've been searching for new and interesting butternut squash recipes – my garden was very productive this year.
I found a likely candidate in the September issue of Cooking Light…. Which I got in December.
First, let me tell you about my relationship with Cooking Light Magazine.
I've been a subscriber since it started, however many years ago THAT was.
They don't seem to think that I deserve any special treatment for that loyalty / longevity.
They produce 11 issues each year.
I actually receive 8 or 9 or 10… depending on the position of the sun (or something.)
They no longer send me a renewal notice, but I can't renew online because there's no provision to get past the State requirement (I can put in France for the country, but I still have to have a US state….)
When I call the nice people that handle the renewals, I can't renew, I can only subscribe…..
Which means my timing has to be perfect or I get two magazines for one month – or no magazines for that month.
I do have other issues, but those are personal preference: most of you know that I don't use 'light' or 'fat-free' products, which Cooking Light recipes use prolifically….
That I can adjust for, and do.
I wouldn't be a subscriber if I didn't like the magazine
On to the recipe.
This was in the "Recipe Makeover" section as a light version of Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.
The opinion: We loved it…. But it's not Macaroni and Cheese.
It didn't have the creamy cheese sauce I want. The squash made the texture a bit rough, not smooth.
And it didn't have the intense 'cheesiness' of a classic mac and cheese.
The verdict: We will eat this again, but if we want Macaroni and Cheese I'll make the real thing. If we want to eat 'light' we'll just eat less of it……
The following recipe is based on the one from Cooking Light, but I made lots of changes, including cutting it back to serve 2 rather than 8 and not using any fat-free or low-fat, low-sodium products.
Oh…. and I added some ham…. and a leek…. and some sage…. and….
1 1/4 cups pasta, tubes, macaroni
8oz (240gr) butternut squash, roughly chopped
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (4oz, 240ml) milk
1/2 cup (4oz, 240ml) chicken stock
1 tbs sage
8oz (240gr) ham
5oz (150gr) Gruyère cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan, freshly grated
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Combine milk and stock in saucepan. Add squash, leeks, garlic, sage and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until squash is tender. Put into a blender and purée until smooth. Add Gruyère and stir until smooth, putting back on low heat if needed.
Combine sauce, pasta and spoon into a baking dish. Lay ham on top, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until bubbly and starting to brown.
One thing I would do differently is to cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than required and let it finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing some of it and thickening it. Yes, I know, I could use less liquid, but I like having the pasta absorb some….