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Winter Squash Mac and Cheese with Crispy Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale

Posted by immaeatthat
December 09, 2014
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Winter Squash Mac and Cheese topped with Crispy Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips is a comfort food dinner kicked up a notch.


~by Kylie Mitchell


It’s like mac ‘n cheese topped with potato chips…but better. 

While I realize kale chips are not potato chips, that’s not going to keep me from munching away on them.  So crisp.  I’ve been doing fun things with kale lately.  Like that one time I put them on nachos.  And now we’re making kale into sea salt & vinegar chips.  Honestly, sea salt & vinegar chips aren’t my favorite.  They’re just so strong and vinegary that I usually can’t handle them.  But my in-laws made some bacon + vinegar sautéed kale last weekend and it was so good that now I’m a vinegar person. 
I’m sure I’ll be over this in like…a day.  But for now, gimme all the vinegar kale chips.
 
So inquiring minds would like to know how your holiday decorating is coming along? Mine is minimal.  I think it takes awhile to accumulate Christmas decorations and this is going to be my first Christmas since getting married last December 28th.  I’m hoping I don’t find myself at Hobby Lobby knee-deep in garlands (all the while justifying my purchases with my 20% off coupon), but if it happens it happens.
It’s just hard to be super Christmas-y when one of the few Christmas decorations you bought, a glittery ball of fake mistletoe, fell from the ceiling last night and your puppy decided to rip the whole thing up.  And now the puppy (this puppy) has Christmas spirit in her.  Quite literally.
But instead of going overboard with holiday décor, I’m focusing more on comforting winter food.  Specifically, creamy mac ‘n cheese topped with crispy sea salt and vinegar chips that make this dish the dish.

For some excitement in this recipe, I decided to mix whole wheat pasta with regular white pasta.  I reasoned if two different types of chocolate chips make chocolate chip cookies all the more delicious, then 2 types of pasta would make mac ‘n cheese even better.  It’s science.  Food science.  I actually considered going the food science route in college, but I’m happy I ended up as an RD (-to be).  Otherwise, I might not be here talking to you about food, which would be the worst.
This mac ‘n cheese meets all my mac ‘n cheese desires because (1) it has more vegetables than regular mac ‘n cheese (hello, acorn squash and kale) and (2) it has a tangy flavor from the crispy kale that I just can’t get over. 

I hope you make this (and then tell me you made this) and then eat it by a fire.  Does your house have a fireplace? I hope it does.

Winter Squash Mac and Cheese topped with Crispy Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips is a comfort food dinner kicked up a notch.

Winter Squash Mac and Cheese topped with Crispy Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips is a comfort food dinner kicked up a notch. 

Add some veggies to your mac and cheese and top it with kale chips! Try this Winter Squash Mac & Cheese for dinner!
Winter Squash Mac and Cheese topped with Crispy Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips is a comfort food dinner kicked up a notch.

Winter Squash Mac and Cheese with Crispy Sea Salt & Vinegar Kale

Yield

makes 1, 9” oval baking dish

Ingredients

  • Crispy Kale:
  • 6 large kale leaves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Mac ‘n Cheese:
  • 1 egg macaroni pasta (I used ½ whole wheat and ½ regular)
  • 1 small acorn squash, sliced in half and seeds scooped out (~1 cup mashed)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • Topping:
  • 1/3 cup sharp white cheddar, grated

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place acorn squash on a foil-lined baking sheet cut-side down and bake for 40 minutes, or until soft.  Scoop out the flesh and set aside.

  2. Pull kale leaves from stem leaving the leaves in large pieces.  Place in a bowl and toss with vinegar, olive oil and sea salt.  Gently massage kale for 2 minutes to help the oil coat all the pieces.   Place leaves in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet (if the leaves are touching, they won’t get crispy.  I ended up using 3 baking sheets for this part).  Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until crispy.

  3. Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente.  Strain and set aside.

  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, prepare your cheese sauce by whisking together milk and mashed squash.  Add in cheeses and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk egg.  Then temper your egg (so you won’t end up with scrambled eggs) by adding a couple spoonfuls of your cheese sauce into the whisked egg and whisk everything together.  Add in a couple more spoonfuls of cheese sauce and whisk.  Then pour egg mixture into the cheese sauce and whisk everything together.  Add cooked noodles and stir until noodles are coated.  Pour mac ‘n cheese into a oval baking dish and top with cheese.  Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.  Serve topped with crispy kale.

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immaeatthat

immaeatthat
Kylie Mitchell is a Registered Dietitian and the founder of the food/ lifestyle blog immaeatthat.com. She started the blog 5 years ago in an effort to stop disordered eating and help people fall back in love with a healthful relationship with food. Kylie works to promote positive body image, intuitive eating and HAES. Kylie also specializes in creative recipe development and high-res food photography. When not behind the computer or camera, Kylie works as an eating disorder dietitian. She is the author of The Single Serving Cookie eBook and The Cookie Dough eBook. Kylie lives in Houston, TX with her husband and puppy, where she likes to over- share on Instagram.
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