Butternut Squash Cheesy Pasta

                     Butternut Squash Cheesy Pasta      marydukecooks.com

Butternut Squash Cheesy Pasta is a seasonal crave-worthy pasta dish. The cheese sauce is velvety smooth made with butternut squash and Fontina cheese. (Fontina cheese is a cousin to Swiss cheese. It has creamy texture, nutty flavor, and doesn’t taste sharp like Swiss cheese.)  This dish is truly grown-up macaroni and cheese!

Butternut Squash Cheesy Pasta

16 ounces peeled diced butternut squash (As a timesaver I purchased already peeled and diced butternut squash at the grocery store. You will need around 5 cups diced butternut squash to yield 1 ½ cups pureed)
3 cups uncooked Cavatappi or other spiral noodles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon iodized salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
9 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
Garnish: additional sliced green onions

Panko Topping
1 ½ cups panko
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼  teaspoon iodized salt
Stir ingredients together in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray a 9 X 13-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray.

Cook butternut squash until soft, about 3-5 minutes in microwave. Pour squash into food processor and process until smooth. Measure 1½ cups pureed squash and reserve for recipe. Save remainder for another use.

Cook pasta according to package directions and reserve.

Melt butter in a stockpot over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook about 5 minutes until tender; stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour on top of, and then stir flour into mushroom mixture. Add milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Stirring the whole time, bring milk/ mushroom mixture to a boil then reduce heat to  a simmer. Mixture will thicken. Add cheese and stir until it melts. Stir in reserved butternut squash and pasta.

Pour pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Prepare Panko Topping and sprinkle on top of pasta. Bake 20-25 minutes or until pasta is hot and panko is golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with green onions. Enjoy!

Published in The News and Neighbor on October 3, 2018.

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