An all-time favorite turned fall favorite.
If I had children – or if I even wanted children – this would be a post about how to get Junior to eat his vegetables by “hiding” them in kid-friendly dishes. Jessica Seinfeld – Jerry’s wife – even wrote an execrable book called Deceptively Delicious that recommends serving dishes “stealthily packed with unseen veggies, puréed so kids will never suspect.” Mmm, spinach brownies! I have a serious problem with parents lying to their kids – even lying by omission – and the idea of tucking cauliflower into mashed potatoes without full disclosure turns my stomach. If you start your kid off eating vegetables from day 1, by year 5 he shouldn’t be terrified of them (says the woman with no child-rearing experience). (For the record – and this will get me hate mail – I don’t know where I stand on Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, which are either unjustifiable falsehoods or harmless fictions, depending on where you stand.)
So how can I in good faith push something that blends pureed butternut squash into good ol’ mac ‘n’ cheese? Because it tastes great. This isn’t about hiding vegetables – though some of you with veggie-opposed kids or spouses may disagree – but showcasing them. I’m not sure whether any homemade macaroni and cheese can top the blue Kraft box of my childhood, but if any recipe can, it’s this smooth combination of squash, cheese, and noodles. The squash isn’t the star, exactly, but it definitely gives an earthy, autumn flavor to an otherwise run-of-the-mill dish.
As a side note, this is the first Martha Stewart recipe that I’ve had to drastically adjust to get it to turn out right. I found the sauce covered only about half the pasta called for in the directions – of course, you can never have too much cheese, in my book – and the baking time seemed to contain a typo. After baking for 20 minutes, you’re instructed to “continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more.” As the pasta is already cooked and the time in the oven is merely to melt the cheese and meld the flavors, I’m inclined to think 40 minutes is the total baking time. A nearly identical Cooking Light recipe calls for only 25 minutes in the oven. So I baked my Martha Stewart macaroni for 20 minutes, then removed the foil and baked until browned, about another 15 minutes.