A friend of mine just yesterday was teasing me about my ‘addiction’ to butternut squash. She might be right. I love it. It’s not just the delicious flavor or the beautiful jewel-tone color, but the overall versatility of it. It’s the type of fruit (yes, it is actually considered a fruit although often regarded as a vegetable) that can stand up to so many different preparation methods and a multitude of flavor pairings. Not only all of that, but it can also be used as a substitute less-desired ingredients like oil.
This week we went to Costco and bought more butternut squash than I knew what to do with and way more than I needed for the one recipe that I had in mind so I had to get creative with it.
The first recipe that I made was a home-made Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I want to preface this recipe with this statement; do not let the addition of butternut squash fool you into thinking this is a healthy recipe. It is not. Healthier in comparison, yes, and gluten-free, but ultimately it is still a pretty rich comfort-food.
Gluten Free Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose Gluten Free flour
- 1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used unflavored unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 1/2 cups Roasted Butternut Squash puree (see recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Gouda cheese
- 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese (part-skim Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Asiago, and Parmesan)
- 1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 pound Gluten Free pasta of your choice (I used Brown Rice Penne)
- 1/4 cup Gluten Free bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Roasted butternut squash puree:
- 2lbs cubed butternut squash
- 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Toss the butternut squash and the oil until evenly coated
- Add the other three ingredients and stir until well combined
- Place on the pan and roast for about 30-35 minutes, gently stirring them up half way through
- Once the butternut squash is roasted, remove and let cool
- Puree the cooled roasted butternut until your desired consistency. I prefer mine to be a about 90% pureed and the rest a bit chunky so that it adds texture and some good bites of squash. If you’re wanting to disguise the squash or keep your sauce really smooth than pureed it until completely smooth.
The Mac ‘n’ Cheese instructions:
- Boil your pasta in generously salted water per the package instructions with the exception of cooking time; remove the pasta a few minutes prior to the suggested cooking time. The pasta — especially gluten-free pasta — is best when it is a bit al dente. I usually remove mine about 4 minutes early (precise, I know).
- To create the roux (the base of the cheese sauce), melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the minced garlic and let saute for 1 minute
- Once the butter is melted whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and other seasonings. Whisk it well and cook for about 4 minutes until the color of roux gets slightly darker and it is well-blended. Slowly whisk in your milk choice, stirring continuously until slightly thickened, this will take about 2 minutes than add in the butternut squash until well combined and thick. Reduce heat to a simmer for a minute or two and then and stir in cheese until melted
- Once the cheese sauce is fully melted and smoothed out, add the pasta to the pot and stir until evenly coated
- I transferred mine into a dutch-oven style pot because I made it a few hours in advance (nap time, to be exact!) and sprinkled the bread crumbs on top than drizzled the extra virgin olive oil over the breadcrumbs
- About 35 minutes prior to serving the mac ‘n’ cheese, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, once ready put the pot in the oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool prior to serving.
This turned out so delicious and wasn’t overpowering with the squash. It was evident, especially with the small chunks of it that I didn’t completely puree out, but it wasn’t in-your-face. Of course, you could add more or less as desired to alter the flavor of it. You could also swap it with pumpkin puree, too. There are a lot of variations that could be made to this but I do rather like my version…
Now, onto the 2nd recipe.
So I had the rest of the butternut squash thanks to the abundance of it from Costco shopping and I had to use it quickly before it went bad. The base of this recipe is not new to me, it is my standard Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf recipe, however, I cooked it in the crock pot which was a first. With Holland being super into climbing on anything and everything these days, cooking dinner when I get home from work is tough… it usually goes something like this; prep, get Holland, prep, retrieve Holland, prep, tell Holland NO, prep, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO, prep, pick-up Holland from getting hurt from doing something she shouldn’t have been doing, prep, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO, prep, BEG POPPY TO WATCH HOLLAND FOR 5 MINUTES AND BRIBE HER WITH ENDLESS CANDY TO HELP ME MONITOR HER SISTER, prep, laugh by butt off because Poppy has thrown her hands up in defeat dealing with the crazy that is her 1-year-old sister, and, well, you get the point. Eventually dinner does get cooked and we do eat dinner but I swear if I don’t break a sweat by the end of it… Needless to say, if I could convert every recipe to a crock-pot recipe these days, I would. Set it and forget it while I am dealing with a baby on the path of destruction; sounds right up my alley!
Gluten Free Butternut Squash and Turkey Crock-pot Meatloaf
- 1lb Lean Ground Turkey
- 1 cup pureed (chunky) butternut squash (see above for recipe)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1 cup Panko style gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped onions (I prefer to saute mine first, but if time does not permit, raw is fine)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup gluten-free ketchup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- sprinkle of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl – be sure to not over-mix it because it will become too dense. Line your crock pot with foil & spray it with cooking spray of your choice. Place all meatloaf ingredients in the crock pot and gently form into desired shape (note; it will spread out a bit due to moisture and the low/slow cooking). I poured 1/4 of the glaze on top of the meatloaf to begin with.
Set the crock pot on LOW for 5 1/2 hours. When the timing is up, add the remainder of the sauce and cook on low for another 30 minutes. I removed the foil & meatloaf from the crock pot bowl and placed under my 500 degree broiler for a few minutes but this step is optional.
Let the meatloaf cool a bit before slicing. It is so moist that if you don’t let it set a few minutes it will fall apart upon slicing it.
What I really loved about making this meatloaf was how moist and flavorful it was but also how the ends got a nice little crispy end to it — which I don’t normally get when I free-form it on a baking sheet in the oven.
This picture makes me laugh because the little piece of parsley and whatever else sticking out of the bottom part of the meatloaf makes it look like an alligator to me. Maybe I have a wild imagination. Or maybe I just spend too much time with 3 kids under 4.5 years old… Either way, please note, this was not Alligator. It’s just a funny shaped crock pot turkey meatloaf ha!