Wow, it has been a very busy few days! Can't complain though - I went to a really amazing conference and got to play with my baby nephew, among other things. The only downside was that I was away from my kitchen for the weekend and haven't had much of a chance to cook in the last week. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to get back into the kitchen today! I had a butternut squash sitting on the counter that was starting to look a bit suspect, so I decided to use it to make this mac 'n cheese recipe that I tagged in Cooking Light recently. I was intrigued by the healthier take on mac 'n cheese that uses butternut squash to add color, flavor, and creaminess.
I'm so glad I tried this recipe! This twist on mac 'n cheese is really great - the sauce is creamy and cheesy but not too heavy and makes for a very satisfying meal. I'm definitely keeping this one in mind if my future children are picky eaters and I need to sneak vegetables into dinner ;).
Macaroni and cheese with butternut squash
Adapted from Cooking Light
I made a few changes to the recipe - I increased the amount of squash a bit and added more broth to keep the sauce from getting too thick. I used whole wheat pasta to increase the nutritional value a bit, and also decided to use whole milk instead of skim. We already had whole milk in the fridge and it adds less than 15 calories per serving, so why not?
4 cups peeled cubed butternut squash
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs fat-free Greek yogurt
5 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated, divided
1 pound uncooked pasta (use a ridged pasta shape like shells or cavatappi, whole wheat if you want)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbs chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes, then remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt and puree mixture using an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender). Stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 2 tbs Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. If the cheese does not melt in smoothly, blend sauce again (I usually do this)
While squash is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta, then drain. Stir together pasta and sauce and spread mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until crumbs are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta and lightly top with cooking spray.
Bake pasta in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.