But tonight I decided that when I got home, I was going to make a dish inspired by this one at Food52. I made butternut squash pancetta mac and cheese. It was incredible. But I have to say, not being a native meat eater, I don't think I'll ever appreciate what is, in my opinion, the superfluous addition of meat to excellent-already recipes. Sitting with my bowl of pasta, hot from the oven, I found myself eating around the pancetta. And when I was done, I saw that I had automatically pushed all of my serving's meat to the side, to remain untouched, to be thrown out. It's fine, it just means I learned something about myself. That I am who I am! It's okay. And that when Mr. Ripe returns from California, he will be quite happy on a cold, hungry night to know there are squash pancetta mac and cheese leftovers in the freezer, just waiting for someone to reheat in the oven.
Butternut Squash Pancetta Mac and Cheese
1/4 lb pancetta, diced, browned, and drained on paper towel
1 2-3 lb squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds discarded
16 oz ziti, cooked al dente
2 T butter
1 T flour
1 c milk
1 c grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c grated gouda (I used goat gouda)
1/2 c Bridgid's Abbey (from a greenmarket, if you can find it, or just use more cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
tiny pinch nutmeg
Place your squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake about 45 min at 375. While this bakes, heat butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and whisk to cook it evenly. Add milk. Whisk until mixture thickens slightly, then add cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is fairly homogenous. Turn off heat and set aside. When squash is done, scoop out and mash the insides. This can be done in the blender. Then add the squash and pancetta to your cheese sauce. Combine with pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish or a 9x9 square pan. Sprinkle top with parmesan and paprika. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.