Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s ooey, gooey, creamy, cheesy…perfect comfort food. Well, this mac and cheese gives a healthy spin on it by adding in some butternut squash, and it is sooooo good!
For those who have had butternut squash mac and cheese before, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who have not yet experienced this deliciousness, come hop on the band wagon! You may think it seems strange to add butternut squash to mac and cheese, but I assure you, it is a perfect addition. The butternut squash adds an extra creaminess to the cheese sauce and a slight sweetness that brightens up the flavor (not to mention the vibrant color it adds). Plus, an extra serving of veggies (well, technically it’s a fruit) never hurts!
1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.), cut in half length-wise and seeds scooped out
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. cavatappi pasta (or whatever type you prefer)
4 tbsp. butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 8-oz block sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (don’t use pre-shredded)
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
Parsley for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the butternut squash with olive oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Allow the squash to cool a bit. Scoop the flesh of the butternut squash into a food processor along with 1 cup of milk and puree until the mixture is smooth
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove and add a couple tablespoons of salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but drain the pasta 2 minutes sooner than what the package indicates. The pasta will continue to cook once it goes in the oven, so we don’t want it to be overcooked.
3. Melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a deep skillet or large pot. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
4. Stir the flour in with the onions and cook for one minute, stirring continuously. Whisk in the remaining two and a half cups of milk, continuing to whisk until the flour has fully dissolved into the milk. Add in the squash mixture from the food processor, then stir in the honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg. Heat until the mixture starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few more minutes.
5. Combine the cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Reserve one cup of the cheese mixture for later. Gradually stir in the rest of the cheese. Remove from heat and continue to stir until everything is well blended.
6. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to coat all of the pasta. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Spread the reserved cup of cheese over the pasta, then sprinkle with the panko bread crumbs. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and drizzle evenly over the top.
7. Bake the mac and cheese at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has browned slightly and everything is hot and bubbly.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley.