Squash & Sage Macaroni Cheese

Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe

Serves 4

Tip: no need to peel a butternut squash, just wash the skin well and it roasts up soft enough to eat.

Ingredients

½ a butternut squash or 500g piece of pumpkin / other squash, peeled if required and chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced or finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g macaroni (wholemeal goes well with the sweet squash)
50g butter
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon mustard or mustard powder
8 sage leaves, four finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
500ml milk
200g mature cheddar
50g Parmesan or veggie alternative
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1.     Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas 4. Toss two-thirds of the butternut squash with the olive oil and roast for 20 mins until nearly tender (it will finish cooking later). Chop the remaining squash coarsely, put in a heatproof bowl with 100ml water and microwave about 5 mins until tender. Drain and mash.

2.     While you’re waiting for the squash to roast, cook the macaroni according to the pack instructions and drain well.

3.     Fry the onion in a knob of butter until softened but not browned, about 5 mins. Stir in the chopped sage and garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then add the remaining butter to melt. Stir in the flour and mustard powder, and cook for 1 minute until it forms a paste. Gradually whisk in splashes of milk (you can add in bigger additions as you go) until you have a smooth sauce. Bubble, stirring constantly, for 3-5 mins until thickened. Take off the heat and whisk in the mashed squash, three quarters of the cheddar and the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.     Stir the cooked pasta and the roasted squash into the sauce. Tip into a baking dish and scatter with the remaining cheddar cheese and the breadcrumbs. Can be made ahead to this point – cool and keep in the fridge, or freeze. If freezing, don’t add the whole sage leaves.

5.     Bake for 25 mins until bubbling and golden on top. Five minutes before it’s ready, scrunch the last four sage leaves in oil and throw them on the top to crisp up.