My dear friend Vanessa, a great chef, was kind enough to send me one of her recipes to try. I happen to be allergic to shrimp, but you could also use grilled chicken or ground turkey instead. One of my favorite foods happens to be mac & cheese, so I’ll be sure to give this healthier alternative a try! Looks delicious, Vanessa!
Squash & Prawns Mac
This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Rigatoni with butternut squash: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/rigatoni-with-squash-and-prawns-recipe/index.html
Although her recipe calls for butternut squash, you can use any winter squash you find. I used frozen for its convenience. However, you can buy fresh, peel, cube, and saute until tender. Then puree. Sometimes you can find fresh squash already cubed, that would save you a few steps.
I couldn’t believe how rich and filling this dish was. In fact, I believe I may have found the perfect alternative to mac & cheese. Kids will not miss the old high cholesterol & high fat mac & cheese, and neither should you. This recipe uses 1/2 – 3/4 cup of cheese at most and that’s for a whole 16 oz bag of dry pasta; no butter, no cream. Just about 1/2 cup – 1 cup of milk.
In addition, winter squash (the main part of the sauce) is so good for you:
Winter squash is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
It is an excellent source of vitamin A, a great source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, and a good source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
It is also a source of niacin, iron and beta carotene. Usually, the darker the skin is, the higher the beta carotene content. - Information from Wikipedia
I served it with shrimp as Giada suggested, but you can do chopped grilled chicken may be even mix in ground turkey. Another alternative I thought of is changing up the type of cheese you use or adding a little spice. Originally I made it with shredded romano, but what about adding smoked paprika and using sharp cheddar instead – sounds good!
- 1 stalk of leeks, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 packets of frozen, cooked squash
- about 1 cup of vegetable, or chicken stock
- about 1 cup of milk
- 1 bag of brown rice macaroni elbow pasta, cooked al dente ( I usehttp://www.tinkyada.com/ProList.htm )
- 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
- about 3/4 cup of romano cheese
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled & de-veined
- Olive oil (to saute)
- Cayenne pepper
- Smoked paprika (must be smoked)
- Saute the leeks & garlic until soft
- Add the frozen squash and allow to begin defrosting in the pan, add salt & pepper
- When the squash is about 50% melted, add the stock and allow to simmer on low until the squash is fully melted
- Add the milk into the squash, add the pasta, 1/2 tbsp of paprika, 1/2 the cheese and 1/2 the basil, then fold carefully not to break the pasta
- Set aside
- Saute the shrimp with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne
- Serve the pasta in a bowl, sprinkle with cheese, basil, and top with a few sauteed shrimp.