Of all the usual ingredients for mac n’ cheese, the only thing I really had was pasta. I was out of cream and gruyere, and I had no bread crumbs. So this came together and it was by far the best mac n’ cheese dish I’ve made. The squash gives it a sweetness and richness, so you don’t need as much cheese and cream. The spices are important, the lavender is just hint of floral, and the cayenne balances out the sweetness. You can use any type of squash or cheese, and mix up the veggies on top. This is the perfect dish after spending the day playing in the snow.
Acorn Squash Mac n’ Cheese + Manchego + Kale + Garlic
1 acorn squash, roasted
1 box quinoa blend organic mac n’ cheese pasta (Ancient Harvest)
¾ cup milk
¼ cup parmesan cheese, cut into chunks
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Santa Fe Lavender Spice
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Herbes de Provence
½ tsp cayenne
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large leafy pieces of kale, stems removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Oven 400. Cut the acorn squash in half and face flesh side down in a baking pan filled with ½ inch of water. Roast until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the squash and let it cool before handling.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in sea salted water.
Remove the seeds from the squash and scrape the soft cooked insides into a blender. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Add this mix to a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring, and add the spices and salt. Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Turn the heat off.
In a separate skillet, heat the butter. Add the garlic and kale and squeeze some lemon juice on top, cover and sauté for five minutes on medium-high heat.
Place another ½ tbsp of butter in a small skillet, and heat in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter is melted. Spoon the mac n’ cheese mix into the skillet, and top with the garlic-kale mix, a few thinly sliced pieces of manchego, and a grind of sea salt and pepper. Cook until the kale is slightly crisped, about 10-15 minutes.