Friday: Summertime mac n cheese with butternut squash

Summer cooking means sometimes comfort food can make you feel heavy, sluggish and anything but comfortable. However if you put a few twists on it you can still make something light but warming.  This summer twist on mac n cheese will give you the home comforts, without you feeling like a nap afterwards. Serves 4 people.

What you need…

1 buttnernut squash

250g macaroni
1 mugful frozen peas

1 tbsp pine nuts
1 slice of granary bread
200g diced pancetta

handful fresh parsley
1 red chilli

½ tub of half-fat creme fraiche
½ tub of ricotta
50g grated cheddar
50g grated parmesan

125g bag of fresh spinach

What you do…

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (or 180°c for fan assisted ovens)
  2. Peel, deseed and chop the butternut squash into bite-sized chunks
  3. Toss with some olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 mins until browned and softened
  4. Boil some water and cook the macoroni as per instructions
  5. 3 mins before the end of the pasta boiling add in the peas
  6. Whilst the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts lightly in a dry frying pan and set aside
  7. Fry the pancetta in the same pan until crispy and brown, set aside on kitchen towel to soak up the excess fat.
  8. Toast the granary bread and then blitz in a food processor or smash in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin to make breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  9. Finely chop the parsely and the chilli and set aside
  10. Drain the pasta and peas and set to the side with a drizzle of olive oil to stop it drying out.
  11. Mix the ricotta and creme fraiche together in the empty saucepan on a low heat.
  12. Add in half the cheddar and half the parmesan and mix until melted through.
  13. Stir in the drained pasta and pease along with the spinach and keep stirring until the spinach wilts.
  14. Add in the chilli, parsley, buttnernut squash and pancetta and keep stirring slowly until all combined.
  15. Pop into an oven proof dish.
  16. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta and scatter the pine nuts and breadcrumbs on the top.
  17. Bake for 20-30 mins until the pasta is bubbling and the topping is slighty brown and crispy.
  18. Serve with a side salad or steamed broccoli.

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