Creamy Butternut Mac and Cheese
This dish is so good that I beat the meat again. 2 cooking throwdowns against Forbes.com travel and food guy John Giuffo (soup and mac and cheese) and 2 dominant victories for TeamVeg against formidable competition.
Full disclosure: I tasted his Greek Malak n’ Cheese entry with braised lamb and it was fantastic. Like gay-for-pay porn stars, I will on occasion put meat in my mouth…but just for work.
Enough tomfoolery, let’s make a mac and cheese that isn’t all weird and dry and the same as every other mac and cheese you’ve eaten in your life. Let’s also make one make one that people who can’t eat cow dairy can enjoy.
1 bunch asparagus
1 lb. Gemelli pasta
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
1 C basil leaves
½ C white wine
½ C plus 2 T Olivo or butter
½ C flour (use AP or whatever hippy flour you like)
4 cups butternut squash soup
2 T Fresh Thyme
1 T Herbs de Provance
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1 C soft goat cheese
1 C ricotta salata
¼ C Locatelli cheese
½ C panko breadcrumbs
Blanch asparagus in super salty boiling water (should taste like ocean water) for one minute then remove, run cold water over asparagus and chop into small rounds.
Slightly undercook pasta. If the instructions say 10 minutes, cook it for 8. You want Al Dente with a bold, capital A. (It sounds nicer in Italian). Strain in a colander, run some cold water over it and set aside with the asparagus.
Melt 2 T of the non dairy spread to cover the bottom of a large saucepan.
In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic and basil, pulse until it looks like a salsa.
Add the onion, basil and garlic mix to the saucepan with a pinch of salt and the wine. Turn the heat to high and sauté until the wine evaporates. Remove from pan and set aside.
Melt the Olivo over medium heat, add the flour and stir to combine. Cook until it turns medium brown, a little more than 5 minutes.
Whisk in the butternut soup one cup at a time until you have a smooth sauce. Keep cooking and stirring as it thickens for 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off and stir the herbs in. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Preheat an oven to 400F
10. Add pasta and asparagus to the butternut béchamel . Stir to combin with the heat at the lowest setting.
11. Stir in the goat cheese and ricotta salata until completely melted and incorporated.
12. In a small bowl, combine Locatelli, breadcrumbs and 1 T of olive oil. Stir to combine
13. Pour pasta into a baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden.
14. Remove from the oven. Let sit for 10 minutes, hit it with some salt and freshly ground pepper then serve.
15. You’re welcome.