Adding squash to mac ‘n cheese seems simple enough, but it makes such a huge difference in the end result that I’ll be doing this a lot more often from now on. This isn’t some attempt to be healthier, because while it does have more nutrients than plain old mac ‘n cheese, it’s still got loads of carbs, fat, and the stuff that makes comfort food so comfortable.
I lightly adapted this recipe from Flavour the Moments to create this dish. Hers looks much more orange and classic, but I think it’s because I varied my cheeses quite a bit. I was at the cottage while making this and I just had to roll with it. I love extra sharp cheeses so maybe it worked out for the best.
The pictures don’t really do this dish justice. I wanted it in my belly. Right then. So the whole “let’s stop and take pictures” thing didn’t last long.
On a sidenote, I finally tried Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, and it is really fantastic. I described it as a sweet, spongy omelette, which my boyfriend said didn’t sound too appetizing, but we both agreed it was great. They make everything super fresh and it’s much lighter than the typical, denser American cheesecake I have most of the time. No complaints.
Also, I finally got Instagram! I got scolded for being one of the only bloggers left who didn’t have it, so I caved. If you’re on there, give me a shout here.
Serves 6 people
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni or mini shell pasta
- 2 tbsp. softened butter
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup old cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup grated cheese of your choice—preferably sharp and dry
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1 cup Japanese-style breadcrumbs, such as Panko
First thing’s first: roast your squash. Rub a light layer of olive oil on the inside halves of your squash, place face down on a greased baking sheet, and place in the oven at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes, checking every 10-ish minutes to ensure it is cooked. You’ll know when it’s done if you can easily pierce it with a fork. Allow to cool, then scrape roasted squash into a large bowl. Mash heartily until barely any chunks remain.
Cook your pasta according to the directions. I recommend doing it slightly al dente (chewy), since over cooked noodles are the worst. Drain once done and set aside.
Heat butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly until it’s golden brown and bubbly and smells like shortbread, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add about a third of the milk in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly until the mixture resembles a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk until smooth, and place back over medium heat. Whisk the mixture constantly to prevent burning, and cook until thickened and boiling, about 7-10 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in the 1½ cups of cheese and butternut squash puree. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the pasta and stir until combined.
Place in a greased 8×8-inch casserole dish , sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil greased with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Best if served straight out of the oven, but it reheats amazingly well.