This is a tale of a culinary coup. I pulled one over on my entire family with complete success. My kids, who turn up their noses in disdain when I even remotely suggest that they eat winter squash, gobbled up this pasta and cheese casserole like there was no tomorrow. Even my husband didn’t notice that slight note of squash with the cheese. Score one for the vitamins!I found this recipe in the March edition of All You magazine. I have seen similar recipes for a number of years, but this time the stars aligned and I actually made the dish. I was most excited about the recipe because the squash is used to thicken the cheese sauce, not flour. In fact, the only thing I had to do to make this a gluten free meal was substitute my favorite gluten free pasta (Tinkyada) for the regular macaroni. That and I left off the panko topping, which my family would not have liked anyway.
Frugal tip: I used home frozen winter squash. Last fall, when huge pumpkins were taking center stage in the bins at the grocery store, I searched out a hidden bin of “decorative” squash. It was filled with Hubbard squash, banana squash and turban squash. I grabbed a huge 15+ pound banana squash, took it home and cooked it up. I suspect that banana squash is what is in those frozen bricks of squash available in grocery stores. The taste is just about identical. Anyway, I filled about 8 2-cup containers with the puree from that big squash and it cost less than five dollars.
- 12 oz gluten free pasta (or regular)
- 2½ cups milk
- 2 cups frozen squash puree
- 1 tsp dry mustard powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 3½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, or almost done, about 7 minutes.
- In a sauce pan, bring milk and squash to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.
- Toss sauce with pasta and place in a greased 2 quart casserole dish or 9X13 pan.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly.