Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Ah finger food. An adventure in finding small bits of food to feed your (almost) toddler that are A. soft enough to mash between toothless gums, B. tasty enough to entice them to actually eat it, C. Healthy (cupcakes need not apply!), and D. Not too messy. Is "D" too much to ask?

Well this recipe fits the bill and it is delicious! I actually ate a portion of it for my own lunch.. sorry babies! I got this out of Tyler Florence's new cookbook for babies. This is just a great book, I really like the recipes and the concepts behind it. I need to do a post comparing this one to Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron as a lot of moms think of her book as a baby food Bible. A key difference between the two, in my opinion, is flavor. Tyler is all about the flavor, even for babies, and so am I. Why would baby want to eat bland flavorless food? This is anything but bland.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese, adapted from Smart Food by Tyler Florence.

1 medium (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, halved lenghtwise, seeds removed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
12 oz small pasta shells **I used rotini because it was in the pantry!**
1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese **I used mild cheddar, again, already on hand**

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Place the squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over it and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool. Leave the oven on and reduce the temperture to 350 F.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of a salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, or until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth. Pour the squash puree over the pasta and fold together. Add about half the cheese and mix until combined.

Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 9 inch baking dish. Spread evenly and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool before serving.

This recipe doesn't have a ton of cheese, milk or butter but the squash puree really makes it taste slightly sweet and so nice and creamy. So good! My kids loved it, I hope yours do too! The book says this makes about 8 kid sized portions but I think it made closer to twelve, especially since I always serve more than one item at each meal. I kept some in the refrigerator for the next day and froze the rest in these.


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