Okay, so I suppose it’s technically always squash season. There’s winter squash, summer squash, and in between squash – but right now, it’s the winter kind that we’re interested in. Think butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash (squaaaash!).
These strange-looking fruits (it’s true! They’re fruits!) can be used in countless ways, are packed with all sorts of good stuff (think vitamins, minerals, seeds and guts that resemble innards), and keep for a really long time – so when you buy one at the store because it’s inexpensive and looks ridiculous but have no actual intention of cooking with it, you have enough time to point and laugh at it, question what the hell you should do with it, search for recipes, settle on one, change your mind because it looks like too much work, then decide you don’t want the squash to go to waste so you use that recipe after all and it’s then that you realize that it was really easy to cook and all of that waffling was for nothing. That was a mouthful, eh?
There are few things better than comfort food at this time of year; dishes that are warm and hearty, and that will stick to your ribs (not literally. If that actually happens to you, call for help immediately because something is seriously wrong. Unless the food is stuck to the outside of your ribs, in which case you’re probably just a slob and should invest in a large bib or muumuu to wear when you’re eating). Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is an obvious choice for blistery-day comfort food, but when you add some squash, onion, and garlic, you’ve got yourself a seriously good meal. Check out the recipe, below.
ACORN SQUASH MAC N CHEESEServes 4
1 medium-large acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter, separated, 1 tablespoon melted
1 medium yellow onion
1 clove of garlic
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
½ cup milk
1 ½ cups cheese of your choice (we use a combination of mozzarella and strong white cheddar)
Salt and pepper, to taste
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: Chopped fresh herbs; salsa and crumbled tortilla chips; crumbled bacon; or a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.
Step 1: Assemble your ingredients, and preheat the barbecue to medium heat.
Step 2: Cut your squash in half and scoop out the stringy innards and seeds (aka “squash guts”).
Step 3: Brush the inside of the squash with the melted butter.
Step 4: Season generously with salt and pepper.
Step 5: Wrap the squash in aluminum foil and place on the preheated grill.
Step 6: Peel and dice the onion.
Step 7: Peel and dice the garlic.
Step 8: Put the other tablespoon of butter in a large, deep pan over high heat, and cook until golden brown.
Step 9: Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent and golden brown in colour.
Step 10: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions.
Step 11: When the pasta is done, strain and set aside.
Step 12: Check on the squash. After about 30 minutes, it should be tender – when it is, remove from the grill.
Step 13: Pour the milk into the blender
Step 14: Scoop the squash out of its hard shell, and spoon into the blender with the milk.
Step 15: Add the cooked onions and garlic.
Step 16: Blend the milk, squash, and onion-garlic mixture in the blender until smooth; transfer to the pan, and cook over medium heat.
Step 17: Add the cheese.
Step 18: Add the pasta.
Step 19: Mix the pasta and cheese into the squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Step 20: Sprinkle with desired toppings and enjoy. Squash-arific!