BB n' C Mac and Cheese

This easy stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe doubles down on sensibility with two family-friendly secret weapons: cooked squash and delicious Cheddar cheese. The cooked squash gets added to the cheese sauce and kicks up the fiber and vitamins with an incognito yellow color that leaves diners none-the-wiser. Not wanting to miss out on the "cheese" part of this equation, I also reach for a super sharp, high-quality Cheddar. I figure, if there's only room left in this pot for 1 cup of cheese, that cup had better count!
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 25 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

1 pound small-shape or short-cut pasta, such as shells or penne

1 teaspoon olive oil

8 ounces thick-cut smoked bacon, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

One 10-ounce box frozen cooked squash, defrosted

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large broccoli crown, cut into bite-size florets

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place a medium pot over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the bacon to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot and reserve on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour the residual grease out of the pot, reserving about 1 tablespoon.
  3. Return the pot to medium heat and add the garlic; cook until aromatic but not golden, about 30 seconds. Add the flour to the pot and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the milk and mustard to the pot and bring the liquid up to a bubble; cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the squash to the pot and return to a bubble. Remove the pot from the heat, whisk in the cheese, and season the sauce with salt and pepper; reserve warm.
  4. When the pasta has 3 minutes of cooking time left, drop the broccoli into the boiling water. Drain the cooked pasta and broccoli and combine with the cheese sauce. Garnish with the reserved crispy bacon and serve.

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