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Roast Butternut Mac 'n Cheese

A dairy daze has descended on Meatland and, for fans of this refreshingly light cuisine, the timing couldn't be better. Forgo heavy, meat meals in the summer heat and focus your full attention on delicious, dairy alternatives. Mac 'n Cheese is a classic - and this week's Meatland kitchen's version is especially tasty - but this Roast Butternut Mac 'n Cheese sets the culinary style bar a little higher. A juxtaposition of al dente pasta, lashings of cheesy, white sauce, and fragrant butternut, it takes only fractionally longer to prepare than the original, and is healthier too. Up your sunshine quota this Shavuot with this vibrant dish and incorporate it into your summer dining always.

500 grams macaroni, cooked till al dente 1 large butternut Olive oil to drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (see notes) 3 - 4 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup flour 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed garlic 4 cups milk 2 cups grated emek or cheddar Salt and coarse black pepper Extra cheese to bake Chili flakes/hot paprika (optional) Breadcrumbs (optional) 1: Halve butternut lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 200 C for approximately 1 hour till soft and slightly browned. You could peel it, peel it and simmer in water if short of time but roasting is minimal effort and adds flavor. 2: Scoop out the soft flesh from the skin when cool and process till smooth then stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. 3: Melt the butter, add the flour and stir constantly over low heat for 3 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and allow to briefly sizzle before stirring in 2 cups of milk. 4: Stir till thickened then add the remaining milk, bring to the boil, then add the cheese, salt and pepper 5: Place cooked pasta in a bowl, stir in cheese sauce, then fold in butternut puree. 6: Place in an oven-proof dish or foil baking tray, sprinkle over extra cheese, breadcrumbs and chili/hot paprika if desired, and bake at 180 C for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cook's Notes: Butternut can be very sweet which is why mustard and Worcestershire sauce work well to make it more savory. Smoked paprika or mustard powder can be added instead. Chili and crunchy breadcrumbs add extra flavor and texture.

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