I love Macaroni Cheese but it’s one of those dishes I have to make sparingly as I would gladly eat several portions in one sitting…
I have wonderful memories of it throughout my life, even back to university when all I could afford was to make a rather flavourless version with the most basic of cheap cheeses. Luckily life moves on and now I am able to splash out on some good Cheddar which makes it infinitely better – indeed my life rule is to never buy anything below Extra Mature or Vintage on the flavour scale, otherwise you might as well drink a glass of milk instead.
Of course you can use other cheeses here if you like and that’s what makes Mac & Cheese a great dish – it’s totally flexible and relatively hard to ruin. If all else fails just reach for the chilli flakes or a bottle of ketchup 😉
Anyway – “normal” Mac & Cheese, as great as it can be, was never going to be compatible with my recent weight loss regime, so not wanting to miss out I spent a lot of time researching lower fat and lower calorie versions that weren’t also guilty of being lower in flavour.
Quite a few suggested making a base sauce with squash or pumpkin instead of a classic flour and butter roux, which follow my general rule of “if lots of people are doing it then it can’t be that bad, can it?”. The main inspiration for this came from Delicious magazine, with a few tweaks to suit our household’s preferences..
I’ve served it up for guests on more than one occasion and as leftovers are clearly not an option I think it’s definitely a keeper.
- 200 g Butternut Squash peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 150 ml Skimmed Milk
- 1 tbsp Crème Fraiche
- Ground Nutmeg
- 175 g Macaroni or similar tube pasta
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 small Onion sliced
- ½ tsp Mustard powder
- 1 clove Garlic crushed
- 100 g strong Cheddar grated
- 20 g Parmesan grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C.
Put the butternut squash and milk into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the squash is tender, then add the creme fraiche and, using a stick blender, whizz to a purée. Add the nutmeg and season to taste.
Cook the macaroni in a pan of salted water for 5 minutes until it starts to soften but is still quite firm. Drain, then add a little of the olive oil to prevent it sticking together.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, add the onion and gently fry for a few minutes to soften. Stir in the mustard powder and garlic, then cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the onion mixture to the purée, then stir in 75g of the grated cheddar. Toss with the macaroni, season to taste, then transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with the remaining cheeses, then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
Leave for a few minutes before serving.