This fall I’ve been going a little crazy with squash. Maybe it’s because there are so many kinds I’ve never tried, or that they’re so interesting looking. Either way it’s my goal to make one dish per week using a different variety each time. So far I’ve made 3 dishes, and I have to say, they’ve all been really delicious!!! One of my favorite types to cook with has to be butternut squash. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in just about every way imaginable. Last year I pureed it and made risotto & pie with it, this time around I made a creamy pot of lightened-up comfort food: butternut squash macaroni & cheese.
I have to admit, my husband was super skeptical about how this dish would turn out, and I was too. I wanted to make sure that the flavor of the squash was present, but not overpowering. By subbing out some of the cheese for squash, it gave this macaroni a really thick and creamy base.
Preparing the squash is easy and the same method can be used for just about any squash out there. All you need to do is cut it in half, remove the seeds or “guts,” brush it with olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and then place the halves face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees until fork tender. Place the squash into a food process or blender (or use an emulsion blender) to puree it and then use it in whatever you want! That’s it!! Pretty simple, huh?
For this particular recipe, I stuck with what has worked for me in the past… to make it all in one pot! Simply boil your pasta, drain, rinse with cold water and set it aside in a bowl. In a glass measuring cup heat 2 cups of whole milk (feel free to use 1% if you’d like) for 45 seconds on HIGH in the microwave, this method warms it perfectly. Return your pot to low heat, melt the butter and sauté garlic and onion until translucent, then whisk in the flour. Bring the heat up to medium and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble (but not brown). Add 1½ cups of the warm milk and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, it will thicken right before your very eyes!
Add the butternut squash puree, salt and spices, and continue whisking. The mixture will be really thick now! Turn the heat down to low and add the cheddar cheese and parmesan, stirring constantly until it has melted into the sauce. Stir in the remaining ½ c. of milk and then add the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Do not be worried if it seems too liquidy, it’ll thicken even more as it cools! And if you decide to top it with extra cheese or breadcrumbs and toast it, it becomes that beautiful golden color. Magic!
I think this has to be my new favorite macaroni. I mean how can I not love it? It’s cozy, comforting and best of all, lightened up! The flavor and texture of the butternut squash is perfect for a dish like this- we loved it!! I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, I think you’ll love it too!
- 2½ c. elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ c. yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. whole milk, warmed
- 1 c. butternut squash puree
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
- Garnishes (optional):
- Toasted breadcrumbs
- Crisp bacon pieces
- Freshly minced herbs
- Fill a dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot with water, bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
- In a glass measuring cup heat the 2 c. of milk for 45 seconds on HIGH in the microwave, set aside.
- Return the pot to low heat, melt the butter and sauté garlic and onion until translucent, then whisk in the flour. Bring the heat up to medium and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble (but not brown). Add 1½ c. of the warm whole milk and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, it will thicken substantially.
- Add the butternut squash puree, salt and spices, continue whisking. Turn the heat down to low and add the cheddar cheese and parmesan, stirring constantly until it has melted into the sauce. Stir in the remaining ½ c. of milk.
- Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Remove from the heat and garnish with additional cheese or desired toppings.
-You can easily make your own puree buy cutting a small butternut squash in half, scraping out the seeds, rubbing with olive oil and placing face down on a parchment lined baking sheet and roasting at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until fork-tender.
-This recipe can easily be doubled to serve a larger crowd.
Recipe source: adapted from my Three Cheese Stovetop Macaroni