I think it’s safe to say that Winter has definitely arrived. Time to dig out those scarves, hats and gloves. Gingerbread lattes are in Starbucks. The Christmas tv adverts have started and the shops are full of Christmas goodies. Why does it always come around so fast?
For me, this time of year is all about comfort food. Pies, hearty soups and stews. Meals don’t come much more comforting than this butternut squash macaroni cheese.
Butternut squash & thyme macaroni cheese
One butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks
One onion, peeled and sliced
50g plain flour
1 1/2 litres milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
250g cheddar cheese, grated
50g parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the butternut squash cubes in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and throw over most of the thyme leaves.
Roast for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft.
While the squash is roasting, cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling water. When the pasta is just cooked, drain and set aside.
For the onion, melt the 20g butter in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook gently until soft and tranceulent.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Take the pan off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. When the mixture is smooth, place back on the heat and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, 200g of the cheddar cheese and parmesan. Stir until the sauce is smooth.
Return the drained pasta to the saucepan and add the roasted butternut squash, onion and cheese sauce. Stir gently and transfer to a large casserole or gratin dish. Sprinkle with a final grating of parmesan and the 25g remaining cheese. Scatter with thyme leaves and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the macaroni is bubbling.