Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rainy Day Comfort Food.....Challenge

Most people think it rains all the time in the Northwest.  I’ve lived in Portland and Seattle all of my life, and I have to say, it does rain a lot, but not all the time.  The exception to that would be this week.  Wow, it’s like the skies have opened and just dumped.  This gets me to thinking.  I always love to cook, but weather like this demands comfort food.  What’s your go-to comfort food during the inclement weather season?  Let me know, and I’ll post your recipe for all to share.  To kick it off here is a favorite of ours:

Healthy(er) Mac and Cheese 

INGREDIENTS:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large can chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
Freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tablespoon coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
8-12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil cooking spray  

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine squash, and stock in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add noodles; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch-square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

4. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

(I add seasoned breadcrumbs to the topping as well,)


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