There was a time that my now four year old son ate any and every vegetable or fruit that I served him. Those days are gone. Haha. Therefore, I get creative from time to time and try to sneak in a vegetable here and there when I can. This was one of the attempts at hiding a vegetable in a kid favorite, Mac & Cheese, and it has quickly become a family favorite. Fair warning: this meal is not one of my “quick and easy” recipes, but it is totally worth the time cooking it, if I do say so myself!
12 oz macaroni noodles
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 3/4 cups of milk
1/4 cup of flour
1 cup shredded smoked Gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1 pack of bacon
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9 x 12 glass baking dish, set aside. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl.
2.) While the pasta is boiling, combine the squash and 2 1/2 cups of milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender (about 20 minutes). In a separate cup, mix remaining 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup of flour. Stir this mixture into the squash, bring to a boil, and then cook until thickened (about 3 minutes). Stir in half of each type of cheese until melted, keep warm.
3.) While squash is cooking, cook bacon until crisp and then drain on paper towels. Crumble the bacon bits into the bowl with the pasta. Keep about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the skillet, dispose of the rest. Return skillet to heat.
4.) Add onions to skillet. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to high. Cook for about 6 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden. Add to the bowl with the pasta.
5.) Add cheese and squash mixture to the bowl with the pasta, onions, and bacon. Mix well and then pour mixture into the buttered baking dish.
6.) Cover the mixture with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake until cheese on top has browned, (about 15 minutes), remove from oven and cool for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy!