Butternut squash fusilli and cheese

It seems appropriate to resurrect this blog right after Halloween. Actually, I refuse to believe that November is here and I’m smothering my denial under lots and lots of crappy Netflix horror movies. 2015 went by too quickly, so let’s let fall sleep in and drink too much coffee in bed before it turns into winter.

We had our third annual (not much of a record yet, but I’m not planning to stop it anytime soon) Halloween party last weekend, and lots of friends raved over this bastardized, butternut riff on mac and cheese, enough to make me get over my laziness and post it here for the world (or just handful of people) to see. I might even make this for Thanksgiving again because it was that good. Enjoy!

(P.S. my recipe makes 8ish servings, so feel free to halve…although leftovers are killer).

(P.P.S. adapted from Pinch of Yum, whose recipes never work for me, but this one kept me from unsubscribing!, and Blue Apron)

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash

2 large yellow onions

500g fusilli pasta (I used this bronze stuff to which sauce is supposed to..adhere better. Let’s ignore the grammar of that phrase and get to the recipe already)

4 tablespoons salted butter (Kerrygold fo’ life!)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more, for drizzling over the squash)

1 tablespoon light brown muscovado sugar

2 tablespoons plain white flour

2 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

paprika-salt (or paprika and sea salt)

salt and pepper

2 cups extra mature cheddar, shredded (shred your own, don’t buy the pre-shredded stuff, which is good for nachos but not much else)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F.

  1. Cook the noodles a few minutes less than package directions (which for me was 9 minutes rather than the recommended 12). Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Peel and cut the onions in half, and then slice each half into thin slices. Add them, along with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt, to the pan, sautéing over low heat until fragrant and golden, about 20-30 minutes. If the onions stick, add a splash of water.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the squash and remove the guts. Curse a little, because preparing butternut squash is the worst. Remind yourself of the end goal. Continue.
  4. Cut the squash into small 1-inch cubes. Place squash on parchment-lined baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika salt (or, paprika and salt, if you don’t have 500 salt mixes like I do). Roast until soft and a bit caramelized, about 40 minutes.
  5. Just before the squash is done roasting (lots of multi-tasking!), heat the remaining butter in the saucepan. Add flour and stir until the flour dissolved and it smells toasty (about a minute). Whisk in the milk until lump-free. Stir in a cup of cheese and about half of the squash, and blend with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one of those, buy one. Or use a food processor, at your own risk, and preferably after the sauce has cooled a little.
  6. In a 9 x 13-inch pan lined with aluminum foil, throw in your pasta and remaining squash cubes together. Add the caramelized onions. Add the sauce, spreading it around to cover the top of your creation.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheddar cheese and cover the thing in aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes, uncover, and bake 5 more minutes to get the top nice and crispy.
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