Squash Baked Macaroni

I was looking for variations on macaroni and cheese this week, but most of them were overly rich and also pretty "adult," with additions of pancetta and mushrooms and the like (probably unlikely to be a hit with the kiddies). So when I came across this hidden-squash version, I thought it might be worth a try, even though Maddie hates the stuff. If I could fool her by slipping it into her fave meal, it'd be a success. Austin and Q loved it, with full vegetable disclosure, but we did the blind test with the little missus who, despite being able to taste the offending veg from her first bite, liked it regardless. Am I showing my age if I say, "Hey Mikey, she likes it!" (anyone over 40 will relate...). She said that I should write in my blog that any moms whose kids hate squash and yet they want to secretly get it into their tummies should try this recipe. The perfect endorsement as far as I'm concerned.

Squash Baked Macaroni
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 tbsp butter
1 lb macaroni or pasta of your choice
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup milk
pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squashes on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil. Toss squashes until evenly coated and rub the cut sides and the cavities of the squashes with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down and bake until very soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Do not turn off oven.

When cool, use a large spoon to scoop the flesh of the squash into the bowl of a food processor. Add cream and milk, and puree until smooth. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Process until well combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

Cook pasta to al dente in boiling salted water. Drain and add to bowl with squash mixture along with the cheeses. Top with breadcrumbs and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Rest of the week
Dec 17 Pizza night for girls' sleepover
Dec 18 Family Xmas get-together
Dec 19 Salmon hash
Dec 20 Squash mac 'n' cheese with broccoli