Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Macaroni and cheese with butternut squash


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
Serves 8

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
Cooking spray
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.


  1. I made butternut squash mac n' cheese for the first time recently and we liked it a lot. The sauce was so creamy and delicious. I just stirred in some puree to my regular recipe, but this recipe looks like it would be really good! Yum.

  2. Fantastic! I love how the squash gives it that cheesy look and texture... I did something similar with pumpkin last week.

  3. This looks delightful! I should stop reading food blogs while hungry.

  4. That looks really yummy. I might try making it with GF pasta and cashew cream instead of milk. If I get around to it, I'll let you know how it comes out! By the way, I LOVE your pictures and need to work on mine. What camera do you use?

  5. Andrea - All credit for the photos goes to my husband. He uses a Canon 20d with a 15mm 1.8 all-manual lens. I'm going to have him do a guest post soon about photography, so keep an eye out for that!

  6. This is absolutely the only way I'll eat mac and cheese any more! It's crazy how healthy and yet creamy it is!

  7. This looks sooo good! I think I might have to add this to next week's menu - vegetables + comfort food = win!

  8. I haven't tried mac + cheese + squash yet, but after seeing your recipe, I MUST! Looks so great!

  9. creamy sauce, crispy top, certainly a winner :)

  10. This looks so good! I only have two b-nut squash from my garden left :( This looks like a great recipe for one of them! Thank you for posting! I love your blog!

  11. That looks so good. I wish I could reach into my computer screen and eat it! Thanks for sharing such great recipes here

  12. Thanks so much for your recipe. I'll give it a try this weekend :)


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