Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese


It's starting to feel like Autumn, so it's time for those cozy comfy meals that we all know and love. Tonight I tried mac and cheese using butternut squash and it was absolutely scrumptious! Top that with some crispy fake bacon, "fak'n", add in some green peas and baby spinach, and you've got yourself heaven on a plate. It's healthier than the real cheese version, much less heavy, and just as tasty. It was perfect for a chilly Monday night.


The cheese sauce was really easy to make. It only took a few minutes to whip up. I bought the pre-peeled + pre-chopped butternut squash to save a lot of time, and with that little short cut, the recipe only takes about 30 minutes start to finish. It's yummy enough to be a huge hit with kids, and healthy enough to please moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas (aka everybody!). I recommend this dish for either a yummy side during family dinner or a perfect main for a couple's weeknight meal. Enjoy!


Ingredients
1 pound orecchiette
1.5 cups chopped butternut squash
1 Tbsp Earth Balance butter
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp arrowroot powder
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
S&P
frozen peas, fresh spinach, optional


Instructions
1. Cook pasta according to instructions, adding frozen peas in the 30 seconds of cooking, then strain, rinse, and set aside. 
2. Add 2 inches of water to a large saucepan with a steamer basket. Add chopped butternut squash to the basket and cover, placing over high heat. Steam squash for 10-15 minutes or until very tender and soft. 
3. Meanwhile, add butter to a saucepan over low heat. In a bowl, whisk together the almond milk and arrowroot powder until there are no clumps. Add milk mixture to the melted butter and whisk to combine. Add mustard, nutritional yeast, garlic clove, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and whisk frequently over medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. 
4. Cook bacon in a lightly oiled skillet for about two minutes on each side or until browned on the edges and crispy. 
5. Add tender squash and thickened sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Add pasta, sauce, and baby spinach to large saucepan and stir over low heat until the pasta is coated in the sauce and everything is warmed through, and serve topped with bacon bits.

Serves 3


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