This cheesy, creamy stovetop mac & cheese is made with the Jamaican pumpkin/squash for some hidden nutrition. You cannot taste the squash so it is a little healthier version of the comfort food we all crave. Serves 2.5
2.5 cups of Squash
7 oz. Pasta (I use Grace Rotini because it is the perfect amount)
1 Tablespoon Butter
1.5 Yellow Onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 ounces Cream Cheese
3/4 cup Vegetable Broth
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 block Anchor White Cheddar Cheese, diced
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
Salt (or seasoned salt) and Pepper, to taste
Anchor cheese and Grace pasta are part of my safety-and-security-emergency-go-bag-5-day-food-stock kit. Ann would be so proud!
Cook the squash. There are two ways to cook squash/pumpkin: oven or stovetop. Oven is the easiest but not everyone (like myself) has an oven so we must revert to the stovetop method.
OVEN METHOD: Slice up the squash into large pieces and place flesh side down in a large baking or roasting pan (you can really use anything—I used an aluminum cake pan). Fill the pan with water so it’s a ¼ inch deep. Wrap the whole thing with tinfoil and bake at 350ºF until fork-tender, about 1 hour. Remove squash from pan and set aside to cool slightly. Scrape out the middle seeds and fibers then scoop the flesh out and puree it flesh in a blender or food processor.
STOVETOP METHOD: Slice squash into big chunks and remove the seeds/fiber and skin. Put a big pot of water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the squash and cook until it is soft, not necessarily falling apart. Drain the water and place the flesh in a blender or food processor and puree.
NOTE: I usually cook a bunch of squash all at once and freeze it in baggies, 2.5 cups at a time.
Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add onions and garlic to the butter and sauté for several minutes until onions are golden and translucent.
Stir in the squash puree and add the cream cheese. (This picture shows that I didn’t fully thaw the pumpkin puree after I took it out of the freezer because I got impatient and hungry. So I had to lower the temperature and break the puree chunk apart as it melted in the pan. Turned out just fine in the end!). Stir until melted together.
Combine the pasta with the squash sauce, adding vegetable broth and milk. For the white cheddar, stir it in so it melts and cook the sauce until it reaches the right consistency, siring constantly.
Go a little crazy with the spices, taste and add and taste and add some more because this dish will be bland if you don’t.