January 08, 2018

Spaghetti Squash Macaroni and Cheese Casserole





Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
3 oz gruyere, shredded
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 teaspoon hot paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup roasted spaghetti squash*
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used leftover cheese bread)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Oil one 8x8 inch baking dish. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and spices. Whisk until it forms a paste, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheddar and Gruyere and whisk until thickened 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained noodles and spaghetti squash. Pour into the prepared pans and top with an even layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Serve immediately.



*Slice in half, roast open-side down for about 40 minutes or until super tender. Scrape with a fork to form threads. I roasted mine a couple of days ahead of time and refrigerated it. If you do this and it releases some liquid, drain the liquid prior to use.

My thoughts:
This recipe is my attempt to bridge the gap between the gooey stove-top cheese lovers, the baked mac & cheese lovers, the crispy breadcrumb lovers and the hidden veggie people. I think I have done a remarkable job if I do say so myself. This is a very cheesy, very gooey macaroni and cheese variant with squash (that fades into the background texture-wise but adds a tiny hint of squash-y sweetness) with lots of breadcrumbs on top. I used the cheese bread we buy from our local bakery during their weekly "happy hours" with half off baked goods for an extra punch of cheese. I like a baked mac & cheese that is heavy on the cheddar and has cheese on top that gets a nice chew to it, personally but this one is very good too. I think of this more as a macaroni and cheese casserole (but maybe I'm wrong, I do not come from casserole eating people) than straight up macaroni and cheese thanks to the squash addition and the breadcrumbs. Honestly, I can't imagine any cheese and pasta-eating person not enjoying this.

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