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1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Roast the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven and cook until soft all the way through, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool. When cooled, remove skin and place in food processor. Purée until smooth.
2. Make cheese sauce. Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour. Stir to make a roux and cook 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Add 3 cups milk and stir until thickened. Add the rest of the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
3. To assemble the dish: Place cooked elbow macaroni in bowl. Pour half of the cheese sauce over and add puréed, roasted butternut squash. Fold together. If it seems too dry, add the rest of the cheese sauce. Place in an ovenproof dish and heat for 15 minutes at 325 degrees.
Roasted Eggplant and Chickpeas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice, pulsed to a coarse purée
1 teaspoon mild honey (more to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
Salt to taste
1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed, or, 1 1/2 cups dried – about 3/4 pound
4 ounces feta, crumbled (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Greek or Turkish
1. Make the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until it smells fragrant, about 30 seconds, and add the tomatoes, honey, salt to taste and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce is fragrant, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush the boil with olive oil. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet, salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes, or until eggplant is lightly browned and soft all the way through. Remove from the heat. Fold the aluminum foil over and crimp the edges together so that the eggplant steams as it cools. Do this in batches if you need more than one baking sheet. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
3. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Place the chickpeas in the baking dish and stir in 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Layer the eggplant over the chickpeas and top with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle the feta over the top and drizzle on any remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano and cover tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until the dish is bubbling.