You know one of those dishes you instantly fall in love with, and then make it over and over? Ya well, this is one of them in our house. This is one of CH’s hands-down favourites, and whenever I ask him what I should make for dinner, this is on the list.
I remember making it for the first time over a year ago, while we were still in London. I didn’t tell CH about the “secret” ingredient, I just merely served-up this delicious, creamy, bright orange macaroni and cheese and left it at that. CH devoured the dish, went in for seconds and that’s when I popped the question on him “umm, do you notice anything difference?” // “No, oh that’s interesting – are you sure?” // “GOTCHA – it has butternut squash in it”. Wife 1, Husband 0.
In all seriousness, this dish is EVERYTHING a good macaroni and cheese should be, plus the added health benefit of having butternut squash puree, and reducing the amount of cheddar cheese – each serving only has about 325 calories. I’ve made this dish for company many times, for my parents (and even my Dad liked it – which is a feat in and of itself) and I most recently made it for my girlfriend who is Vegan – and it turned out beautifully (or at least I think it did…) For those who want to make it Vegan – I used Oh She Glow’s recipe, the recipe for our usual version is below.
As a total aside, and one last note, it re-heats beautifully for lunch. So definitely make a large batch and enjoy the next day! Also, head over to The Way the Cookie Crumbles or Branny Boils Over for the original recipe and some great tips!
Butternut Squash Macroni & Cheese
Yield: Serves 8
Prep/Cook Time: About 1 hour and 20 minutes, including roasting the squash “my-way”.
- 1 small-to-medium butternut squash
- 12 ounces (1 box) dried elbow macaroni
- salt & pepper
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter
- 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp powdered mustard
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups) + 3 TBSP shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry your butternut squash. Place the butternut squash, in its whole-form, in the oven and roast for 45mins – 1hour, or until a butter knife inserted into the flesh meets no resistance. (You can also cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes).
Remove from oven, allow the squash to cool. Cut in half, remove the seeds.
Scoop 2 cups of flesh from the squash and puree it with your hand-blender or food processor.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add about a tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente – you want it to still be firm. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the flour and mustard. Whisk constantly for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the milk.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.
At this point, add the grated cheeses, ½ teaspoon of salt, a dash of ground pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.
Next, add the pureed butternut squash to the saucepan and whisk until incorporate. At this point, you can proceed without pureeing again, but I like a smooth as possible sauce, so I puree it one more time, in the pot, with my hand-blender.
Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir thoroughly.
*At this point, you can serve it immediately and it is delicious* However…
I place my macaroni into a 9×12 baking dish, sprinkle the panko bread crumbs and additional 3 TBSP of cheddar cheese over top and put it under the broiler for 2 – 4 minutes, or until nice and golden brown. This step adds a beautiful crunch texture to the dish, but again, it is completely option.