Next up in quarantine cooking - kabocha squash Mac N Cheese!
Mac N Cheese is the ultimate comfort food in my opinion! My aunt used to bake us girls individual casserole dishes and it was always such a special treat. In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a big fan of hiding veggies in every kind of dish. This squash is perfect for this casserole because it actually makes it creamier without having to use as much milk and cheese! And since the squash puree is bright orange, it looks just like cheese so that even your pickiest eaters won't be able to tell the difference!
Kabocha squash is slightly sweet and nutty in flavour. It's like a butternut squash and a sugar pumpkin combined! From a gardener's standpoint, I'd rate it 10/10! The plants are vigorous and produce heavy yields. Like most winter storage squash, I chose to start these a month or two early indoors, before transplanting out into the field in June. I was able to harvest ripe squash by the beginning of September, just in time to get them in before our first frost hit. If you are planning on growing them someday, I'll give you a word of caution that they will spread their vines as far as possible, so make sure you have allotted enough space for each plant. The fruits have a dark green skin and average in that 3-5 lb range, which is perfect for most recipes.
While this recipe does call for kabocha squash, you can easily substitute butternut squash or a small sugar pumpkin. To make the squash puree, first cut the squash in half and remove the ends. Next, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place face down in a baking dish with approximately 1" of water in it. Roast in a 375F oven for 30-45 minutes, or until you can pierce the skins easily with a fork. Allow to cool. Scoop out the now cooked squash from the skin and transfer to a food processor. Blend until smooth. I tend to roast mine, use half right away, and then freeze the other half for another time. Another reason that I like this squash is how well it stores! You can definitely expect to see kabocha growing in my garden again next year!