Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

I had some leftover butternut squash cubed and ready in the freezer, so I thought I would give this recipe a try. I adapted it and the results were really good. According to the kids they still like mac & cheese in the box better (figures!) but they didn’t know there was any squash in it. Mom and Dad really liked it, and we think it is a fab side dish – would be really good for a pot luck. The sauce is nice and creamy and it is a nice change from the usual. Also not that naughty, as you use 1% milk, light ricotta and cheddar cheese for the sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (preferably low-sodium or no salt added)
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher (coarse) salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 454g (1 pound) macaroni
  • 1 cup of light old cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaping tablespoon margarine or butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan or puree with an immersion blender (this makes it nice and smooth!). Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. While squash is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions.
  3. One macaroni is done, drain, and transfer back into the pot. Stir in the squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (you can start to do this when pasta & squash mixture cooking time is close to done)
  5. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture into the baking dish.
  6. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and margarine or butter, then sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
  7. Cover with foil, and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 10-15 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Note: I had made butternut squash soup a few weeks ago and bought too big a squash so I cubed the remaining fresh squash and put it right in the freezer. Worked perfect for this recipe. It is advised to only freeze squash fresh if you want to use it in soups or for purees as it will be “mushy” once cooked.

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