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Butternut Squash And Brussels Sprouts Mac N’ Cheese With Buttery Bacon Ritz Crackers

Yes, there is bacon, butter and cheese, and I know those are not health foods, but there is also a whole four cups of pureed butternut squash, half a pound of brussels spouts and a whole lot of my very favorite whole wheat pasta.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3 cups brussels sprouts, sliced thin (into shreds)
  • 2 tablespoons DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 pound of your favorite short cut DeLallo Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 sleeve)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups warm milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups DeLallo Sharp White English Cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup fontina cheese, shredded (add an extra 1/4 cup...if you want!)
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (or 1 cup more fontina or cheddar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the butternut squash on a roasting pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil + a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the brussels sprouts on a separate sheet pan and toss with tablespoon olive oil, the brown sugar + a pinch of salt. Roast for both for 25-30 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking. I removed my Brussels before my squash because they cook faster.
  3. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees F. Set the Brussels sprouts aside and add the hot squash to a blender or food processor. Add 1/4 water and puree until smooth and creamy.
  4. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al-dente. You want it to have a bit of bite. It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain well.
  6. While the pasta boils, add the bacon to a medium-large size pot. Fry the bacon until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. To the hot bacon grease, add in the crushed Ritz crackers and toss to coat.
  7. Toast the crumbs for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once the crumbs are lightly toasted remove form the heat and set aside.
  8. In the same pot you fried the bacon, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream, raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, mustard powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese and butternut squash puree until the cheese is fully melted. Stir in the pasta + charred brussels sprouts. Transfer to the prepared baking dish or if using cast iron, bake right in the same pot.
  9. Evenly sprinkle on the toasted cracker crumbs + bacon and place the baking dish on a baking
  10. sheet.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
  12. Remove from the oven and let site five minutes (yeah, right). Dig in!!

Butternut Squash And Brussels Sprouts Mac N’ Cheese With Buttery Bacon Ritz Crackers

Yes, there is bacon, butter and cheese, and I know those are not health foods, but there is also a whole four cups of pureed butternut squash, half a pound of brussels spouts and a whole lot of my very favorite whole wheat pasta.