Baked Shells with Squash – A Healthier Take on Mac n’ Cheese

I submitted my first giant paper! Huzzah! I still have another giant paper + a 9-pager for Italian, but, having finished one, I have to say that I am very relieved to partly finished with finals. Oh Georgetown, your assignments never fail to deprive me of free time.

In celebration of my accomplishment, I decided to make myself real food yesterday so I wouldn’t have to cook every night this week. Whenever exams come around, I find myself craving comfort food, and one of my absolute favorite meals is macaroni and cheese.

Well, mac n’ cheese just isn’t that good for you. Most recipes feature heavy cream and at least three cups of cheese. That, my friends, is a LOT of calories. And don’t even get me started on the stuff in the blue box (though fake cheese has its merits). So I decided to search the internet for a recipe that was lower in fat, but not lower in flavor.

A few months ago, I stumbled across this recipe from Martha Stewart that peaked my interest. Conveniently, I had randomly picked up a package of frozen butternut squash puree at the grocery store last week. Once my squash finally thawed, this recipe was a breeze to put together. My housemate Ena tried a piece of pasta from the finished product and voiced that it was “delicious,” and tasted just like mac n’ cheese (just a wee bit sweeter)! I altered the original recipe to fit the ingredients that I had in my house, and I think it turned out pretty well. I paired this with an arugula and balsamic salad, topped with some roasted sweet potato wedges.

As always, recipe below. See, I haven’t forgotten how to cook! Happy eating!

Baked Shells with Squash
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

Ingredients:

  • 1½ onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ pound medium shell pasta
  • 1, 12 oz package of frozen squash puree, thawed
  • 1½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1½ teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ cup asiago cheese
  • 1 tablespoon mozzarella

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat your oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add in your onions and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook until the onions release moisture. This takes anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes. While you wait, cook your pasta.

  • After the onions have released water, uncover them and raise the heat to medium-high. Add in your parsley, oregano, and garlic powder. Allow the onions to brown. This takes another five minutes.
  • Drain your pasta, saving about 1 cup of cooking water. Place your drained pasta back in the pot and place over low heat.
  • Add in your cooked onions and about ¼ cup of the water. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then add in your thawed squash and ½ cup asiago cheese. Stir to combine.
  • After tasting for salt and pepper and adjusting accordingly, transfer to an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. Top with the remaining asiago and mozzarella.

  • Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the cheese on top is melted and just starting to brown.
  • Serve warm.

Serves 4 – 5.

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2 responses to “Baked Shells with Squash – A Healthier Take on Mac n’ Cheese

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