Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites
6 C. Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces (approx. 4lb squash)
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 C. Sweet Yellow Onion, diced small
2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme, minced
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. White Pepper
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1 C. Half and Half
1/2 C. Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 C. Macaroni Pasta, cooked al dente
Additional Sprig of Thyme, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 425º. Place butternut squash cubes, olive oil, and a dash of salt to a medium bowl and mix well, making sure to coat each piece of squash with the mixture. Roast for 35-45 minutes on a cookie sheet, making sure the pieces aren't touching, and turn them over halfway through the roasting time.
2. Reduce oven to 375°, remove the butternut squash (once lightly browned on the edges) and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool to the touch, add to a food processor and pulse until texture is smooth. If it's too thick, add the 1/2 and 1/2 in bit by bit until smooth.
3. As the butternut squash is roasting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until clear, then remove from heat. Add the flour, fresh thyme, white pepper, nutmeg, and salt to the onions, stirring well to combine. Add the butternut puree and the rest of the cream and place back on the burner over low heat. Add both the cheeses, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted completely. Remove from heat, make sure your cooked Macaroni is in a large bowl, then pour the mixture over your noodles, stirring well to combine.
4. Take your muffin tin or mini muffin tin and spray with a light coat of nonstick spray. Add a thin layer of breadcrumbs to the bottom of each cup, then spoon some mac 'n' cheese into each cup, pressing down with your spoon to make sure the noodles are filling every gap possible in the cups. Once filled, add another thin layer of breadcrumbs on top.
5. Place your pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the tops of each Mac 'n' Cheese Bite are slightly browned and the cheese mixture has darkened slightly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes, then use a spoon to gently remove each bite from the pan. Arrange on a plate, garnish with additional thyme sprigs, and enjoy!