Butternut Squash & Kale Mac n Cheese
Serves 5 (4 adults + 2 kids)
You guys – I’m excited to introduce you to my new favourite meal…I want to say of all time, but I think I’m still a bit high on Mac n Cheese, so I think it would be best for me to let it all settle down a bit first before I confirm that one way or another. This is the food equivalent of a giant warming bear hug in the depths of wintertime. This is healthy comfort food at it’s very best. It’s everything a traditional mac and cheese should be – creamy, cheesy and full of flavour. However, it also wears another hat too. If indeed, dinners actually wore hats…It also happens to be chock full of vitamins and minerals from all of the vegetables that are hiding in there too. I couldn’t normally go near my kids with the veggies in the ingredients list but as it’s all blended up, part of the delicious sauce, they are none the wiser. It is also very high in fibre, thanks to all of the veggies and the wholegrain pasta. Of course, it’s easy to make this gluten free by swapping it to a GF pasta instead.
One portion provides 568 calories, 19g of protein and almost 40% of my daily fibre requirements. It also contains a whopping 344% of my Vitamin A and 71% of my Vitamin C, which oddly enough makes it a wonderful dish to have when you feel like your immune system could do with a boost, which isn’t normally something you would associate with mac n cheese. I have individual portions stocked up in my freezer for those inevitable manic days and am SO happy when I take a look and see this cosy, nourishing meal waiting for me. My son can tolerate a little dairy, but not too much, so whilst I use organic cheddar, I swap out the cows milk for oat milk and it’s just as delicious. It’s not often that I make recipes that the whole family enjoys together with ZERO adjustments. Usually this one wants no X, while the other wants extra Y. But this meal? Well, it’s a bloody winter miracle because there’s no special requirements needed, just a load of happy faces at the table.
· 1 Butternut Squash
· 2 tsp Olive Oil
· 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
· 1 tsp Garlic Granules
· 300g Wholewheat Pasta
· 60g Butter
· 60g Flour
· 2 tsp Mustard Powder
· 1 Onion
· 2 Leeks
· 25g Kale (feel free to leave out if your kids don’t like kale)
· 400ml Milk
· 120g Cheddar
· 30g Parmesan
· Salt & Pepper
· Generous handful of fresh Sage
· Pre-heat he oven to 180 degrees.
· Peel, de-seed and chop the butternut squash.
· Place on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika, garlic granules, salt and pepper.
· Roast for 25 - 30 minutes.
· While the squash is cooking, cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Once done, drain and set aside.
· Finely chop the onions, leeks and sage.
· In a frying pan, heat a little oil over a medium heat and fry the onions and leeks until just starting to brown.
· Add the sage and fry for an additional minute. Set aside.
· Remove any woody stalks from the kale.
· Once the butternut squash is ready, remove from the oven and mash it.
· NOTE: if your kids don’t like any ‘bits’ in their food – then place the squash, onions leeks and kale in a food processor and blend altogether to a smooth puree. But skip this step if just cooking for adults.
· In a saucepan, heat the butter and stir in the flour and mustard powder to make a paste.
· Whisk in the milk, bit by bit until it is all smooth.
· Continue to cook on the hob for another 4-5 minutes until it has thickened. Making sure you stir it regularly.
· Remove from the heat and add in the mashed squash, leeks, sage and onions.
· Grate in the cheddar and season with salt and fresh black pepper.
· Now add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Combine well.
· Either distribute the mixture into individual dishes, or cook in one large rectangular dish. NOTE: If batch cooking, cover and freeze now.
· Grate the parmesan on top and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until hot and bubbling.
Calories – 586
Protein – 19g
Carbohydrates – 70g
Fat – 24g
Fibre – 9g
Vitamin A – 344%
Vitamin C – 71%
Calcium – 38%
Iron – 13%