Butternut Bacon Mac n Cheese & A Tribute
with Rosemary, Smoked Gouda and Italian cheeses. Adapted from Cooking Light.
A sophisticated, grown-up version of macaroni and cheese topped with a mixture of rosemary roasted butternut squash, sauteed onions and crispy bacon.
We needed a comfort food dish for a coworker who lost her child. Earlier this month, she lost her almost 2-year-old daughter in a tragic accident. It was such a shock when the email came out. I was about to leave for the day, as I recall, and after I read it, I was just blown away with sadness and sorrow and thoughts of “I need to go home and hug my kids”. What came after that made me so proud of everyone at the company that I work at. They set up a meal train for the family so the grieving parents and big sister wouldn’t have to think about cooking. We signed up right away to bring a meal–it filled up so fast, it was tough to find a time! Cards and money were collected as a memorial to the little girl and people donated their leave time to the mother to give her time to grieve.
Nobody can bring her back, but we can offer comfort to the family who loved her. My friend came over and together, along with my daughter, we made this meal for them. The three of us chopped and roasted, measured, mixed and stirred together, to bring a bit of relief to a family in mourning. My friend bought a small princess dish for her older sister and we made a special little serving of plain kid-friendly macaroni & cheese just for her and put it in the princess dish. I kept just a little of the grownup mac n cheese so I could photograph it and write this, a tribute to that sweet little one, a tiny gesture of celebration for her short but spunky life.
We made this and delivered it to her family along with a chocolate pear cobbler for dessert (recipe coming soon) and some fresh yellow watermelon from my dad’s garden. I haven’t heard from my friend (and don’t expect to), but I hope it brought them a few moments of comfort.
- 3 cups of 1-inch cubes of butternut squash
- A sprig of fresh rosemary (leaves only), chopped fine
- Salt & fresh-ground pepper
- 6 slices of bacon
- 1 yellow onion, peeled & chopped
- 8 oz. large macaroni
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of 2% milk
- 3/4 cup smoked gouda cheese
- 1/2 cup Italian blend of cheeses (provolone, asiago, mozzarella, & fontina)
- Red Robin Seasoning & fresh ground pepper, to taste
- For the top: Goat cheese crumbles & a sprig of rosemary, for garnish
- To prepare the squash: cut a small hole in the squash and bake at 425 for about 15 - 25 minutes or just until the squash is slightly softened. Remove the squash from the oven and let it set until it's cool enough to handle. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seedy part with a grapefruit spoon or melon baller. Using a peeler, peel the outer peel off the squash, then chop the rest of the squash into 1-inch chunks.
- Measure 3 cups of this squash and set the rest aside for another purpose. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (you may want to line it with a silicone baking mat first, then spray) and set the squash in a single layer on the mat. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper and rosemary and set the baking sheet back in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon till crisp in one saucepan and start the macaroni cooking in another saucepan.
- When the bacon is done, remove it from the saucepan, reserving just a teaspoon of bacon fat in the pan. Saute the onions in the pan until soft, then put them in a bowl. Chop the bacon and toss the two together in a bowl.
- Warm the pan again over medium heat, then add the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Warm the flour for a minute or so, then slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Heat until the mixture starts to thicken, then add the gouda and Italian cheeses and stir to melt. Taste and sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning and pepper for a little extra flavor.
- Drain the water from the macaroni and mix with the cheese sauce. Toss the bacon with the onions and butternut squash mixture. Spray your casserole dish with cooking spray, then pour the cheesy macaroni into the casserole. Top with the butternut bacon mixture, then sprinkle with a few goat cheese crumbles. Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the goat cheese is softened.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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