Monday, 30 June 2014
Butternut Pasta Bake
Food in our household has taken a bit of a nose dive recently. Both James and I have been super busy with work, and so meals straight out of the freezer have become the norm (and not in a 'here's something I prepared earlier' sense either - more of a 3 for 2 in the frozen isle special...) I did try and put a little more creativity into our Saturday night dinner however, although at that point neither of us had had time to shop, so all I had were our storecupboard basics to work with - pasta, flour, milk, cheese and some butternut squash I had in the freezer.
I did my usual search of the bbc good food website to see what I could possibly make without having to trek to the shops, and this delicious looking recipe for butternut macaroni cheese was clearly a sign from heaven.
This is comfort eating at its finest. The sweetness of the butternut squash and creamyness of the cheese sauce are my idea of paradise in food form.
To cook a decent sized 2-3 person pasta bake (we split it between two, but if you're more generous to your guests it would work for three!) you need:
100g extra mature Cheddar or similar cheese, grated (it's got to be strong or you won't taste it)
50g Parmesan, grated
a small butternut squash, peeled and sliced into 2cm chunks
15g plain flour
30g butter or margarine
15g mustard powder (optional)
olive oil, and salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
First toss the butternut squash in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, with the garlic, and spread out on a baking tray and roast at about 200 degrees c for about half an hour. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain, and set aside.
For the sauce this was the first time I have made a Bechamel sauce (or roux depending on what you call it) since school, so it ended up being slightly lumpy, but not bad for a first attempt in 10 years. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour and mustard powder to make a paste. Then add the milk slowly (this is the trick to not getting it too lumpy) to the paste stirring all the time over a low heat. Add all the cheddar and half the Parmesan to the sauce. Add a little more milk or some of the pasta water if it gets too thick. Mash about a third of the butternut squash and also add to the sauce.
Finally combine everything together in a baking dish, sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and pop back in the oven for 20 minutes or until it's just starting to go brown and crispy on the top!