I love mac-n-cheese, but sometimes I don’t want to eat pasta. So, enter the lovely (and seasonal!) spaghetti squash, which I’ve used in the past in place of pasta with tomato sauce or pesto. If you’re one of those weirdos (kidding!) who say, “Oh, yuck. I hate squash,” you just might change your mind when you try this. Trust me, if you add enough cheese sauce…you’ll be won over.
- 1 spaghetti squash, halved, seeds/innards removed*
- 1 C. steamed broccoli florets
- 1 C. reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 C. grated pecorino romano
- 1 TB butter
- 1 TB AP flour
- 1 C. milk (room temperature)
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/4 C. panko bread crumbs (optional)
Update: I just learned that rather than struggle with cutting a spaghetti squash in half, one can poke a bunch of holes in it with a knife or fork and microwave it whole for 12-15 minutes until soft, OR, roast in a baking dish whole for an hour (also poke holes in it). That is SO much easier than pretty much using a machete and almost cutting off a finger.
Cut squash in half and either spray with cooking spray or, rub a bit of olive oil on the squash. Bake, halved side up on a baking sheet for about 50-60 minutes (or, until the squash is tender and fully cooked (ie: soft) at 400 degrees. Let squash cool off until you can handle it. Using a fork, scrape out the insides of squash–it should look like angel hair pasta. Add to steamed** broccoli in bowl and set aside.
Make the cheese sauce: Over a low heat, melt the butter in a small/medium sized sauce pan, add the flour and whisk out any lumps, add the milk and the cheeses and let it simmer. Add the ground mustard and paprika too. Whisk until a smooth sauce forms. Pour cheese sauce over squash and broccoli, stir until well-coated. Now, at this point you can serve and eat it, but, I went a step further. I put the mixture in an 8×8 baking dish, topped with a tablespoon of grated pecorino and the 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs and baked it for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees until it was brown and crispy on top.
*Wait! Don’t discard those squash seeds! You can eat them! Remove them and rinse in a colander, making sure to get all the bits of squash guts off of them. Pat dry with a paper towel and put ’em in a bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil to coat them, sprinkle a little salt and maybe some crushed red pepper, spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until toasted.
**I’ve found that I’m too lazy to use a stovetop steamer, so, I put the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl with a bit of water, cover the bowl with wax paper and nuke it for a minute and a half. I don’t like wilt-y broccoli; I still want it with a slight snap…thus the brief cooking time